5 Veteran Free Agents the Detroit Lions Should Bring in for Training Camp
They've also brought in several veteran players whose best days are behind them but still have much to offer.
Free-agent veterans serve a great purpose. They're often cheaper than most free agents but they have a wealth of information to share that is both valuable on and off the field.
Many teams benefit immediately from the leadership a veteran adds to the locker room. They're often much more consistent on the field than rookies or second-year players as well.
That's why they make great insurance policies.
For example, the Lions brought in Jacob Lacey and Sean Jones to provide insurance in case the young players tabbed to start don't live up to expectations.
Are the Lions done signing veterans? Really, who knows. It might seem like the training camp roster is set for now but changes are only an injury or run-in with the law away.
Here are five NFL veterans that the Lions might consider bringing in should the need arise.
5. Stephen Spach, TE
The Lions could bring in Stephen Spach today and it would get about as much attention as if Jahvid Best suffered a hangnail. Actually, it would get less attention than that.
That's not to say Spach wouldn't be a smart veteran to sign. Yes, the Lions already have three skilled tight ends in Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Scheffler and Will Heller, but what happens if one or two of them go down?
In that situation do the Lions really want to rely on Alex Gottlieb or Nathan Overbay? Let's hope not.
Spach is no Pro Bowler either. In fact he's a seven-year veteran who's a career backup and has never caught more than seven receptions in any season.
So why Spach? No, I didn't draw his name out of a hat; there is a method to this madness. One word: Blocking.
The Lions are going to be running the ball a lot more this year and they could use an extra blocker on the edge. Spach is a more skilled blocker than any of the three Lions TEs I already mentioned.
Here's ESPN's Insider Analysis of Spach's skill set:
Spach is used primarily in blocking situations and doesn't have the ball thrown to him very often. He's a skilled blocker who knows how to move his feet and maintain leverage as he sustains blocks.
Even if he had to be used in the passing game, he could easily have a career year and catch a handful of red-zone touchdowns. Especially with Matthew Stafford passing him the ball.
4. Aubrayo Franklin, DT
Aubrayo Franklin is a 31-year-old veteran who's been a starter for the past five years. He's played for three different teams, most recently the New Orleans Saints, and does a solid job tying up blockers and double-teams which allows linebackers to make plays (ESPN: Insiders only).
He's not spectacular, but the Lions don't need that. They have plenty of big-play potential on the line with Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. They also good depth with Corey Williams and Andre Fluellen.
Can a team have too much veteran depth though?
At this point in his career he's not going to be a starter and he's not going to command big bucks. According to Rotoworld.com, he visited the Atlanta Falcons in April but he hasn't signed with anyone yet.
He'd simply be a solid addition to the defense and could be valuable if injuries start to deplete the line.
3. Jarvis Moss, DE
As a former first-round pick in 2007—17th overall—Jarvis Moss certainly deserves the bust label. The talent he displayed at Florida hasn't translated into the NFL at all. His numbers through five years don't even qualify as mediocre. They're just bad.
The numbers were still bad, but it's baby steps.
Here's why the Lions should give him a look. He's only 27 years old and has shown some improvement. He needs to develop his technique but has the raw skills Martin Mayhew has targeted before—speed and acceleration off the edge.
Maybe Moss just hasn't found the right situation. Being around players like Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril and Willie Young might be what he needs to take the next step.
The Lions already brought in Everett Brown, who, like Moss, is a player that has failed to reach his potential. Why not bring in another one? Let the two of them battle it out and see which one works the hardest and shows something.
If neither of them stick, then cut both of them and there's no harm done.
2. Jason Brown, C/G
In the 2012 NFL draft, many thought the Detroit Lions would target a center in one of the first four rounds.
There were plenty of good prospects to be had, and with Dominic Raiola not getting any younger, the Lions would've been smart to pick up a player capable of taking over the center position eventually.
Detroit was in great position to select Peter Konz out of Wisconsin in the second round, but went with Ryan Broyles instead. Therefore they're left with second-year player Dan Gerberry and undrafted rookie Matt Camilli to back up Raiola should he go down.
After hearing those two names, every Lions fan reading this probably said a short prayer for Raiola's health.
The Lions don't have to be so risky though. Bringing in a veteran center as an insurance policy would be good business and there's a great one still available.
Jason Brown has been a starter in this league for the past six years—both as a center and a guard. He's obviously versatile and the St. Louis Rams thought enough of him in 2009 to sign him to a big deal: $7 million per year with an $11 million signing bonus, according to ESPN.com.
The Rams clearly overpaid for Brown, but they also unfairly made him the scapegoat for their own irresponsibility and overall poor team performance. He was benched and then released after the 2011 season.
The Rams were a bad team and Brown had a part in it, but so did every other player on their roster. He's a solid veteran and could be a valuable back up for anyone.
Given the Lions dearth of quality centers, they'd be smart to give Brown a look.
1. Ryan Grant, RB
The Detroit Lions have seven running backs on their roster currently. Looking at the talent assembled at the position, it's safe to say they're comfortable with the players they have.
However, one must also consider the injury histories of their top three rushers. That consideration is why the Lions pursued Ryan Grant back in May.
A number of media outlets, like this one, reported that they actually offered him a deal.
However, Grant declined to even visit Detroit because of "economic issues," according to his agent (Rotoworld.com).
That was then, and this is now.
In other words, the Packers have moved on and so should Grant. His options are shrinking. He's also 29 years old and has a significant injury history himself.
The writing is on the wall for Grant. He's not getting a big pay day and if he wants to play, he'll have to take what he can get.
This could be a great opportunity for the Lions. Yes, they're happy with who they have, but Grant would be an upgrade from several of their young rushers.
Grant's better than Keiland Williams and Stephfon Green and even though Joique Bell has great upside, Grant has the NFL experience to probably pass him on the depth chart (for now).
At the very least the Lions would bring him in for very cheap and they'd have a great insurance policy should their running backs turn into a M.A.S.H. unit again.