Lions Free-Agency Tracker: Updated Signings, Rumors and Grades
After a terrible 2012, the Detroit Lions are in spin control, trying to right the ship before it capsizes completely.
With a myriad of holes even before a long list of potential free agents leave, GM Marty Mayhew and head coach Jim Schwartz have their work cut out for them.
The team has been linked with several free agents already, so they could be busy very early on in the process.
Over the course of the opening of free agency, check back here for any signings or departing free agents, as well as what both mean for the Detroit Lions and their efforts to turn things around after a disastrous 2012.
Lions Free Agents
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We're pretty sure Cliff Avril will be leaving, after he was tendered last year and clearly not happy about it. However, the more important question could be, will Chris Houston and Louis Delmas depart as well, leaving a messy secondary even weaker?
On the other hand, if you look at the list below there may be multiple names that make you say "who?" and that's a comfort.
Because you can be sure the Lions won't have to spend a lot of money on them if they want them back.
Cliff Avril, DE, UFA
Joique Bell, RB, ERFA
Shaun Chapas, FB, ERFA
Gosder Cherilus, T, UFA
Louis Delmas, S, UFA
Drayton Florence, CB, UFA
Andre Fluellen, DT, UFA
Dylan Gandy, C, UFA
Jason Hanson, K, UFA
Nick Harris, P, UFA
Jerome Harrison, RB, UFA
Will Heller, TE, UFA
Sammie Lee Hill, DT, UFA
Chris Houston, CB, UFA
Lawrence Jackson, DE, UFA
Jacob Lacey, CB, UFA
Pat Less, CB, UFA
Stefan Logan, WR, UFA
Don Mulbach, C, UFA
Kassim Osgoon, WR, UFA
Stephen Peterman, G, UFA
Ricardo Silva, S, ERFA
Kevin Smith, RB, UFA
Amari Spievey, S, RFA
Kyle Vanden Bosch, DE, UFA
Corey Williams, DT, UFA
Willie Young, DE, RFA
Lions Lose Gosder Cherilus to Colts
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So it looks as if the Lions re-signed Corey Hilliard just in time.
Still the writing on the wall is starting to point pretty clearly at either Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel or perhaps Lane Johnson with the No. 5 overall pick this April.
The Lions need to start getting younger on the line. Hilliard is 27, Cherilus was 28, Jeff Backus is 35, Dominic Raiola is 34 and Stephen Peterman is 31.
Letting Cherilus go, while a little scary, should just be a step to rebuilding this line and giving Matt Stafford the time he needs to cleanly find his receivers.
RUMOR: Lions Offer Bush the Starting Running Back Gig?
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We already know Reggie Bush is visiting the Lions today, which is a good sign for the Lions since, after a three day "non-tampering/tampering" stretch, if he's visiting, they're probably close.
And it looks like the Lions are intent on not letting Bush leave unless he's wearing Lions' jersey.
Yahoo's Jason Cole reports that the team is offering his the starting role in the backfield.
To a guy always battling the "scat-back" label, that's a big deal and, as Cole points out, something Bush will likely be offered by the Arizona Cardinals as well.
Can Bush carry the full load?
Well, he did it in Miami pretty handily. He topped 1,000 total yards both seasons, with 1,086 on the ground in 2011 and 986 in 2012.
Consider that the Lions' full load at running back isn't exactly 30 carries a game and it seems to me he can absolutely do what they want him to.
Having him in the backfield also allows Matt Stafford another target and makes the offense look that much more dynamic.
We'll see if the starting role helps tip the scales in Detroit's favor.
Reunited and It Feels so Good—CB Chris Houston Agrees to Deal with Lions UPDATED
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Ian Rapoport of NFL.com and NFL Network is reporting the Lions and cornerback Chris Houston have agreed to terms on Wednesday.
My assumption is that this is the three year deal Anwar Richardson was writing about on MLive.com Tuesday.
If so, this could mean several things. Certainly, given the state of the secondary, they will still look for more help in the draft. However, while I felt as though Dee Milliner was a lock before, with Houston returning and Gosder Cherilus departing, perhaps offensive line help will be a higher priority.
So if Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher are there at No 5 overall, I have to think they're the pick. If not, do we see Ziggy Ansah (who I know many commentors hate) or perhaps another defensive end or outside linebacker? They do, after all, need pass rushing help.
More than anything, this seems to open up their choices for the top of the NFL draft in just over a month.
While Houston isn't a lock-down corner, he's very good and the team needed to get him back.
We'll have a little time before financials hit, as he will not arrive in Detroit until tonight, to sign tomorrow.
Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News is reporting this is actually a five year deal. Still no report on the money, but I'm even more certain that this will be a very cap friendly deal, at least for this year.
Lions Agree to Terms with DT Jason Jones—B-
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Adam Caplan of Philadelphia Eagles.com is reporting that the Lions have agreed to terms with Jason Jones, a defensive tackle who played for the Seattle Seahawks last season and the Tennessee Titans before that.
Meanwhile, Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com says the contract is a three-year deal.
Of course, the Lions are set at defensive tackle, but could use some depth and as Caplan points out on his twitter feed, could fit in best as a nickel tackle.
I don't think this is a bad signing at all—I do wonder what the cost was, but for a reasonable price I like it. He'll provide some depth and be a good rotational back-up for the current tackle tandem of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.
I give this a tentative B-.
I'm seeing a few folks refer to Jones as a defensive end as well as a tackle. Which actually makes a heckuva lot more sense. If they have him outside and make him effective, he could be able to take advantage of the pressure from Suh and Fairley.
Reggie Bush Signs with Lions for Four Years—A
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You can cancel those lunch plans Andy Reid.
The Lions have announced that Reggie Bush has reached an agreement with the team. While financial details have yet to come, Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com says it's a four year deal.
We will probably hear a few more details at the press conference at 1:45 today, but this is a signing we've all been expecting for some time. B/R Lions featured columnist Dean Holden called it the worst kept secret in free agency.
The Lions clearly wanted Bush very badly and not just the front office. Mike Freeman of CBS Sports says that some Lions players were really dead set on getting Bush in the locker room as well and that they feel he can "stabilize a locker room in dire need of it".
Which I find fascinating, really. I spent some time around Saints players back when Bush was there and while I never heard a bad thing about him, I never heard him referred to as a locker room leader.
A lot can change in a few years though, so perhaps Bush has developed into a leader in his time over with the Dolphins.
For sure, he will be an excellent addition to this offense. He can catch the ball as well as run it, something which will make him a very productive player and could help this offense continue it's prolific ways.
His ability to catch the ball might also help overcome a potential deficit of talent at wide receiver.
We knew this was likely to happen, and now that it has the move appears to be a very smart one and will pay dividends all next season.
In my way-too-early opinion, I grade this a solid A.
S Glover Quin Is a Lion—Wait He's Not—Hold On, Yes He Is
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After some confusion, it looks like the Lions hit three for three in the Wednesday free agency sweepstakes as Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com says Quin has signed with the team.
Again, financial terms have yet to be disclosed, but Twentyman (who, after all works for the team website and who was retweeted by the team) says it was a five year deal.
More than likely, this spells the end of any chance the team might re-sign Louis Delmas. Quin is a solid safety, converted from cornerback and is solid in both coverage and run support.
For those scoring at home, that's three free agents—Jones, Bush and now Quin—who entered the Lions facility and walked out wearing a jersey.
That's a pretty darn good track record.
Quin isn't an effort to fix the secondary in one fell swoop, but will really help it out a bunch. If I were a Lions fan, I'd be very happy.
As a grade, I would rate this a B+ signing, depending on money.
The Return of Louis Delmas
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With Glover Quin and Chris Houston in the fold, returning oft-injured safety Louis Delmas didn't appear to be a pressing concern.
Which is why Pro Football Talk's report that he has signed a two-year deal with the Lions is icing on the cake.
More than likely, a thick defensive back and safety market as well as his constant injuries held down his price until it just made the most sense to return to Detroit.
More than likely this is a low price deal. If that's the case, it's fantastic because if he costs just a little they can deal with his injuries.
The upside is, if he stays healthy (admittedly a big if) he is a very good player.