There have been some developments in free agency with the Lions, so let’s take a look at the latest news.
QB: There is nothing new on a possible contract extension for QB Matthew Stafford. It is likely to happen later in the summer. GM Bob Quinn has made it a point to improve the offensive line, and that was the major focus in free agency. The Lions saw their starting right guard (Larry Warford) and right tackle (Riley Reiff) become free agents. Detroit let them both leave and signed two big time free agents to replace them in RG T.J. Lang from the Packers and RT Rick Wagner from the Ravens. These guys are upgrades and could give the Lions one of the better units in the league if the new guys develop good chemistry. Stafford should enjoy improved protection as well.
RB: As of now there is nothing new to report here as far as transactions, so we would still be looking at a committee of RB Ameer Abdullah, RB Theo Riddick, and RB Zach Zenner. The one interesting item that was revealed recently was that Riddick underwent double wrist surgery which is why he ended up on IR at the end of the season. He is expected to be good to go but his value is as a receiver out of the backfield so this injury is concerning. I still feel like this would be a solid group, but there is a prevailing feeling that an upgrade is needed and it will likely happen in the draft although some national pundits have mentioned Detroit as a possible target for RB Adrian Peterson. I suppose if he is interesting in playing the Vikings twice, but that seems like a long shot. You are still going to see some mock drafts that have the Lions taking a running back (Cook? McCaffrey?) in round 1. I would prefer not investing that high of a pick on a running back as it seems like you can look around the league and find plenty of productive backs that were picked in the middle rounds of the draft. RB Joe Mixon of course is a huge wild card in the draft, and Quinn has made some comments that would lead you to believe the Lions are interested. Ultimately I don’t think the organization would allow Mixon to become a Lion.
WR/TE: Detroit lost WR Andre Roberts to Atlanta in free agency. Roberts was a nice #4 receiver who also handled returns. The Lions may try to replace him with WR Keshawn Martin who they added on March 11. As for WR Anquan Boldin, it appears he wants to keep playing. However, there have been reports that he would like to try to sign with a team closer to home (Florida). Boldin’s production last year was a surprise and it is unclear who would fill that void. The Lions picked up TE Darren Fells but he is a blocking specialist so this has no fantasy value, other than perhaps helping to improve the anemic running game.
K/DST: The Lions cut LB DeAndre Levy which was not a surprise if you have followed his situation over the last two years. The Lions have added three defensive linemen in free agency but they all profile as depth and rotation guys. A big time pass rushing end would still be my preferred choice in round 1 of the draft if they can grab one at 21. Linebacker help is also needed. Expect the draft to be heavy on defense.
Next month we will preview the draft and perhaps take a look at the 2017 schedule if it has been released. The Lions received no compensatory picks and as of now have a total of eight picks: one pick in round 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7, and two picks in round 6.