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NFL Draft

3 Offensive Free Agents Lions Should Target

  • The Draft Network
  • March 5, 2021
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Detroit has ushered in a new era of football with the firings of head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn. Now, with Dan Campbell as head coach; Brad Holmes as the team’s new general manager; and quarterback Jared Goff, via a trade that sent franchise cornerstone Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams, the Lions have entered full rebuild mode. 

After consecutive 9-7 seasons in 2016-17 seasons under then-head coach Jim Caldwell, Detroit continuously failed to progress from the cellar of the NFC North. Things weren’t much better under Patricia, who had 14 combined wins the last three seasons. The Lions enter a key offseason with key offensive players on the brink of departing in free agency. Wide receivers Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay, running back Adrian Peterson, and right guard Oday Aboushi headline the team’s six unrestricted offensive free agents. 

The release of cornerback Desmond Trufant saved the Lions $6.2 million, and the team now sits just $3 million over the projected cap. With manageable money available and an ever-growing laundry list of future transactions to complete for Holmes, here are three targets Detroit could sign when free agency begins March 17.

Curtis Samuel, WR, Carolina Panthers

If the Lions fail to tag receiver Kenny Golladay and re-sign Marvin Jones—which is highly unlikely they do both—Goff is going to need someone to throw to. As it stands right now, newly signed wideout Tyrell Williams and 2020 fifth-round selection Quintez Cephus slot in as the X and Z receivers for Goff; it’s not an ideal situation for the new player under center in Detroit. 

Curtis Samuel not only provides a threat outside, but he’s a Swiss Army knife within an offense, with the ability to take it the distance anytime he touches the rock. In Carolina, Samuel worked at X, in the slot at Y, in the backfield, and in the wildcat in empty formations: He does it all. 

With a below-average offensive line, the addition of Samuel would take the pressure off Goff and allow his innate ability to create within any offensive scheme to shine. 

Austin Blythe, IOL, Los Angeles Rams

The salary-cap restraints hurt Detroit here. Washington Football Team’s All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff or Buffalo Bills’ Jon Feliciano would be ideal plug and plays, but the Lions simply don’t have the money. Enter Austin Blythe, who offers versatility at both interior line positions for a large discount compared to the aforementioned lineman. 

Jonah Jackson proved to be a nice addition via the 2020 NFL Draft, starting all 16 games up front; but with the versatile Aboushi set to enter free agency, the Lions must address the interior via the 2021 draft or open market. Blythe has missed just one game the past four seasons and would provide Detroit a nice piece within the heart of its offensive line next to Frank Ragnow.

Wayne Gallman, RB, New York Giants

Peterson’s presence in Detroit, like in Washington, was invaluable to the development of D’Andre Swift. Peterson provided a breath of fresh air for the rookie who is now primed for a massive sophomore campaign. Peterson and Swift split backfield duties for Patricia in 2020, totaling a combined 15 rushing touchdowns. 

With Kerryon Johnson in the final year of his contract, a similar under-the-radar running back would be a nice, youthful addition to pair with Swift in the backfield. Wayne Gallman took over the reins in New York following Saquon Barkley season-ending knee injury and provided a jolt in the Giants’ backfield that seemingly no one expected—except for Gallman. After a minor role in his first three seasons, where he was primarily used on special teams, Gallman had career-best marks in 2020, totaling 682 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. 

As he explores free agency, he’ll have plenty of suitors; but none could potentially offer the opportunity Detroit could for the former Clemson standout. The chance for Gallman to pair with Swift in the team’s two-man scheme could serve as a seamless transition from his days as a Giant.

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