Free Agents the Detroit Lions Should Avoid at All Costs
The Detroit Lions are positioned to overhaul many areas on their roster.
Twenty-seven players are scheduled to become free agents this offseason, and the Lions have plenty of tough decisions to make. Until Detroit cuts ties with whoever they decide to let go, general manager Martin Mayhew will have narrow cap space to deal with.
There are lots of popular free agents that could help improve the Lions. However, the following names listed are players to stay away from.
1. High-Priced Wide Receivers
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Toward the end of the season, the Lions' receiver depth was anemic. Injuries struck budding receiver Ryan Broyles (ACL), veteran Nate Burleson (leg) and tight end Brandon Pettigrew (ankle). On-field drama with receiver Titus Young has his career as a Detroit Lion currently in limbo.
The Lions were stuck with below-average receivers like Kris Durham and Brian Robiskie. With their current starters in recovery, Detroit is in need of depth on the outside.
Plenty of big-name receivers could be intriguing, like veterans Greg Jennings, Dwayne Bowe and Mike Wallace.
Jennings has dealt with a scary injury history with Green Bay. Throughout his injuries, he's lost targets to James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Jennings still has a good burst at 29 years old, but might cost too much to be brought to Detroit.
Bowe has been hot and cold throughout his career in Kansas City. He finally emerged in 2010, catching 15 touchdowns and notching the first of back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons. However, Bowe, along with the rest of the Chiefs, regressed in 2012 and cut his season short after a serious rib injury.
Wallace created a whirlwind of controversy while holding out for a contract extension this past offseason. He didn't play up to those contract hopes, and the Lions don't need to involve themselves in that bidding war.
Detroit is better equipped with drafting a late-round rookie like Auburn wideout Emory Blake or Texas A&M's Ryan Swope. The Lions need cheaper and younger talent instead of overspending for overrated players.
2. DE Cliff Avril
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Defensive end Cliff Avril is hungry for big money. Last offseason, he held out for a worthy contract extension and reportedly turned down a three-year offer worth $30 million.
After only 9.5 sacks, Avril didn't earn a higher pay scale. If he's still searching for higher money than his last offer, he'll have a small market this summer. Even if he doesn't want a bigger salary, the Lions should be prepared to part ways with Avril.
Avril had a nice 2011 season with 11 sacks, but he hasn't been the disruptive force this defense needs. The Lions predicate their defensive line to be the dominant unit of the defense. Defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley draw double teams as often as any other 4-3 tackle, but the defensive ends don't take advantage of their one-on-one matchups and disrupt the offensive backfield.
Detroit can find much better than Avril in the NFL draft with its first-round pick. Two favorites for Detroit's No. 5 pick are Florida State's Bjoern Werner and Texas A&M's Damontre Moore. If the Lions want to invest in the free-agent market, Cincinnati Bengals free agent Michael Johnson could be a wise signing. At 6'7", 270 pounds, Johnson is a promising young defensive end.
3. S Laron Landry
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Last offseason, not many teams wanted to take a chance on safety LaRon Landry. Even after a Pro Bowl year, the Lions should stay away from the possibility of signing him.
Landry is known for his monster hits and ridiculous biceps. He's reliable in run support and is a solid tackler. However, he can find himself out of place in coverage, which is one of Detroit's biggest concerns on defense.
The Lions need to solidify their secondary, especially at safety. Leader Louis Delmas has been injury-plagued his whole career and is entering free agency this offseason. Bringing Delmas back would be the best move for the Lions, but he must be paired with a consistent counterpart.
Detroit could select a mid-round safety like LSU's Eric Reid or USC's TJ McDonald instead of gambling on the 28-year-old Landry. A young learning safety next to Delmas makes most sense.