3 Offseason Moves Detroit Lions Should Have Made
Is it too early in the 2012 NFL season to start looking at the moves the Detroit Lions should have made in free agency? The start of the season has not been kind to the Lions, and their weaknesses are glaring for the entire world to see. It is not too difficult to see where they are falling short.
The Lions signed their own free agents by locking down linebacker Stephen Tulloch, backup quarterback Shaun Hill, offensive tackle Jeff Backus and defensive end Cliff Avril, along with several others. The Lions also signed wide receiver Calvin Johnson to a monstrous eight-year, $132 million extension that will keep him in a Lions uniform until 2019.
They were very quiet in signing free agents from other teams as the lone addition was cornerback Jacob Lacey. The Lions added offensive players in the first two rounds of the 2012 NFL draft, and they followed that up by selecting six defensive players to finish the draft.
The defense is a weakness and the selection of six defenders speaks to the areas the Lions tried to address. They addressed these areas with young players, and their impact will not realistically be felt this year.
There were a few moves the Lions could have made to give them a better chance this year, especially in the secondary. Here are a few players that could be aiding the Lions in a big way through three weeks of the regular season.
A Trade for Asante Samuel
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The Lions have enormous holes in the secondary. The cornerback play is below average at best, so much so that the Lions are starting a rookie they drafted in the third round. Bill Bentley is a talented young player, but the Lions rookie is going to have his share of struggles.
The Lions don’t have any stability in their secondary and a player of Samuel's abilities would have gone a long way in making it more difficult for teams to throw the ball on the Lions. He also could have mentored the young cornerbacks on the Lions roster and helped to develop them.
The Atlanta Falcons traded for Samuel and gave up a seventh-rounder for his services. That is an incredibly cheap price to pay for the 31-year-old four-time Pro Bowl cornerback. The Lions would likely have to have given up more to get Samuel, but the price would have been well worth it.
Samuel comes with baggage, but his presence on the field would have done wonders for the Lions secondary. That enormous hole that exists in their secondary today would be considerably smaller if Samuel was a member of the Lions.
Sign Free Agent Cortland Finnegan
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Cortland Finnegan signed with the St. Louis Rams in free agency, but it was a giant mistake for the Lions to let him get away. Finnegan plays a style that Lions fans would love, so much so that he would have become an instant star in Detroit.
The Rams signed Finnegan to a five-year, $50 million contract. He got paid extremely well but is well worth the money, considering his style of play and his ability to irritate the player across from him.
Finnegan is an incredibly chippy football player who gets under the skin of just about everyone he plays against. Most know Finnegan as a dirty player, but he plays an extremely tough game, and that toughness would significantly help the Lions right now.
Football Outsiders rated Finnegan as the best cornerback in the NFL in terms of the amount of yards he gives up per pass thrown at him. He gave up 4.3 yards per pass thrown at him in 2011. The 28-year-old is entering the prime of his career, and he would have bolstered the Lions secondary.
The Lions secondary is struggling in coverage, but they are not getting any help from their defensive line. The Lions have a lot of young talent on their roster, but they need to bridge the gap, as the young players can’t help them right now. Finnegan would have been an instant and long-term solution to that problem.
Sign Free Agent Thomas DeCoud
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The Lions are incredibly thin at the safety position with starter Louis Delmas sidelined with a knee injury. Backup John Wendling is starting in place of Delmas, and he is struggling to cover the deep half of the field.
The Lions other starting safety is Erik Coleman. He is also struggling in coverage, as evidenced by the poor play against the Tennessee Titans in Week 3. The Lions are not talented enough to be competitive when they don’t get help from their defensive line.
The Lions needed to inject as much talent in their secondary as possible, and Thomas DeCoud would have been a fantastic addition. The 27-year-old safety is a remarkably talented player who would have stabilized the back end of the defense.
DeCoud would have strengthened the weakest part of the Lions roster with his coverage and tackling ability. He would have significantly upgraded the secondary and the Lions would not be struggling so much with DeCoud playing the deep half of the field.
DeCoud signed a five-year, $17.5 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons ahead of the free agency period. DeCoud would have been great medicine for a struggling Lions secondary.