The 6 Best Free-Agent Signings in Detroit Lions History

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The 6 Best Free-Agent Signings in Detroit Lions History
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

For a football team more synonymous with bad personnel decisions than perhaps any in history, smart free-agent pickups are not exactly abundant.

That's why there are only six, and why a couple of them may leave you scratching your head.

Much of that has to do with two of the Lions' longtime general managers. Russ Thomas was often too cheap to sign his own draft picks, much less free agents. The result was a bunch of Hall of Fame AFL players.

Thomas was different than Matt Millen in that Thomas knew what he was doing. Problem is, what he was doing was staunchly refusing to invest any money or effort into the team's success, choosing instead to nickel-and-dime the team to ensure a bottom-line profit.

That formula worked well enough to keep Thomas in his job for 22 years. The Lions missed the playoffs in 19 of those years, largely because of penny-pinching decisions in free agency.

And then there's Matt Millen, who actually wanted the team to do well, but lacked the know-how to make it happen.

Still, despite years and years of mismanagement, and the fact that a vast majority of Lions greats were the result of lucky draft picks, the Lions occasionally got it right in free agency.

At least, these few times, they got it more right than wrong.

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