2017 Free Agency Preview: Detroit Lions
Top free agent targets for the Detroit Lions, players that must be re-signed, team cap space, and more to get you ready for 2017 free agency.
2017 Free Agency Preview: Detroit Lions
[Editor’s note: This preview was originally published on March 1, 2017, and updated on March 6 to reflect changes in the market do to franchise tags, re-signings, cuts, etc.]
What you need to know
The Lions must address a razor-thin defensive front-seven. They’ll likely ask OLB DeAndre Levy to take a pay cut, as his $8.225 million cap hit isn’t justified by his 265 combined snaps in 2015 and 2016. They’ll also need a solution at right tackle if Riley Reiff isn’t resigned.
Salary cap room
- Defensive lineman
- Offensive tackle
Notable free agents
- Larry Warford, OG, 82.0 overall grade in 2016
- Riley Reiff, OT, 67.5
- Anquan Boldin, WR, 72.0
- Rafael Bush, S, 73.7
Anquan Boldin, WR, 72.0 overall grade in 2016
Boldin was a reliable chain-mover and red-zone target for QB Matthew Stafford in 2016, as he tallied 69 catches and eight touchdowns for the Lions. He cost Detroit just $2.75 million against the cap last year, a number he’s unlikely to exceed with a new contract considering his age.
A.J. Bouye, CB, Houston Texans, 90.9
Bouye’s 90.9 overall grade was fourth among CBs in 2016. He had two interceptions and two pass breakups in Houston’s two playoff games, and totaled 17 defended passes for the season. Opposing QBs had a passer rating of just 58.5 against him, compared to 113.5 when targeting Detroit’s Nevin Lawson.
Top 2017 free agency prospects
Brandon Williams, DT, Baltimore, 75.9
Haloti Ngata was Detroit’s only interior defender to post a run-defense grade over 55.0 in 2016. While Williams doesn’t offer much as a pass-rusher, his three-year-average grade of 84.8 against the run would be a welcome addition. Last season Williams posted 30 run stops with just one missed tackle, and finished seventh in run-stop percentage among all defensive tackles.
Dont’a Hightower, LB, New England, 85.1
Expect Hightower to be a priority if he doesn’t resign with New England. Hightower is an every-phase player, and Lions’ general manager Bob Quinn will have a comfort level with him dating back to their time together with the Patriots. Coverage production was a major issue for the Lions in 2016, and Hightower’s average of 7.1 yards per reception allowed was the lowest mark among all linebackers with at least 15 targets against.
Kelvin Beachum, OT, Jacksonville, 44.3 (86.7 in 2014 with Pittsburgh)
Beachum’s 2016 tape clearly shows he wasn’t over the ACL injury that ended his 2015 campaign early. Because of this, he could be set for a rebound year, and could be the answer for Detroit at right tackle. In 2014 with Pittsburgh he gave up just 19 total pressures, and in six games in 2015 he yielded just six before succumbing to his injury.
2017 NFL Team Free Agency Previews
|NFC East||Dallas Cowboys|
|NFC East||New York Giants|
|NFC East||Philadelphia Eagles|
|NFC East||Washington Redskins|
|AFC East||Buffalo Bills|
|AFC East||Miami Dolphins|
|AFC East||New England Patriots|
|AFC East||New York Jets|
|NFC West||Arizona Cardinals|
|NFC West||Los Angeles Rams|
|NFC West||San Francisco 49ers|
|NFC West||Seattle Seahawks|
|AFC West||Denver Broncos|
|AFC West||Kansas City Chiefs|
|AFC West||Los Angeles Chargers|
|AFC West||Oakland Raiders|
|NFC North||Chicago Bears|
|NFC North||Detroit Lions|
|NFC North||Green Bay Packers|
|NFC North||Minnesota Vikings|
|AFC North||Baltimore Ravens|
|AFC North||Cincinnati Bengals|
|AFC North||Cleveland Browns|
|AFC North||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|NFC South||Atlanta Falcons|
|NFC South||Carolina Panthers|
|NFC South||New Orleans Saints|
|NFC South||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|AFC South||Houston Texans|
|AFC South||Indianapolis Colts|
|AFC South||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|AFC South||Tennessee Titans|
Josh Liskiewitz | Analyst
Josh joined PFF as an analyst in 2015. During the season, his primary focus is college football (mainly the Big Ten). He is also heavily involved in PFF's NFL draft coverage. Prior to joining the team, he worked for six years with GM Jr. Scouting, an independent draft scouting service.