On March 17th, teams can begin signing their 2021 free-agent class, and Brad Holmes will be setting the tempo for the Detroit Lions.
On March 17th, teams can begin signing their 2021 free agent class, and Brad Holmes will be setting the tempo for the Detroit Lions with his first batch of free agents. Revamping the defense should be the alpha primary goal for the Detroit Lions. Dan Campbell and Aaron Glenn are taking over a tattered defense that is void of marquee talent. It is important to remember that as of currently, Detroit is $6,283,412 over the salary cap, so that eliminates Detroit’s ability to sign a star defender like Matt Judon or Yannick Ngakoue. Here are five must-sign defenders for Brad Holmes and Co.
5. Mike Hilton, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers
I fully expect Justin Coleman to be released, and then after that, Detroit Lions do not have a nickel cornerback on their roster. Mike Hilton is one of the premier slot corners and ideal for Aaron Glenn’s defense. Mike Hilton is 26 years old and a shade over 5ft 9in. His stature restricts him from playing outside primarily, but he does his best work on the inside. Hilton is the best nickel-blitzer in the NFL, and he racked up 3.0 sacks throughout the season. He has a knack for coming down with the football, especially in crunch-time. Hilton would help Detroit establish at young-triad a cornerback and round-out the best CB unit in the NFC North.
Yearly average: $7,844,494
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4. Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, New York Giants
The Detroit Lions gave up the fifth-most rushing yards per game in the NFL. Dalvin Tomlinson is set to hit the market after performing as the NFL’s best run-stopper. Tomlinson was the anchor for the New York Giants run-defense that was top-ten in fewest rushing yards allowed. The 320-pound defensive tackle has versatility; he played 3-tech at Alabama but has played primarily 1-tech with Big Blue. In Detroit, he would be asked to stay at 1-tech and stop-the-run in the A gap. Tomlinson is the priciest free-agent on this list; however, his price-tag is still very realistic.
Expected contract: 4 years, $52,000,000 per @PFF_Brad
Yearly Average: $13,000,000
3. John Johnson III, S, Los Angeles Rams
Brad Holmes would love to reunite with former draft-crush John Johnson III. Holmes was a pivotal member in John Johnson’s selection back with the Los Angeles Rams in the 2017 NFL Draft. Johnson crushed it last season and was considered to be a Pro-Bowl snub by football analysts. In his career-year, Johnson notched 105 tackles, eight passes defended, and an interception in 16 games. He is a splash-defender with a healthy habit of coming up clutch. In 2017, Johnson picked off Drew Brees to put the Rams in the Super Bowl. Tracy Walker and John Johnson III would be the best safety duo in the NFC.
Expected contract: 5 years, $41,697,335
Yearly average: $8,339,467
JOHN JOHNSON OVERTIME INTERCEPTION 😳😳😳 RAMS BALL
….and he breaks out the CHOPPA dance in NOLA 😅pic.twitter.com/OMtH40Vb44
— FanDuel (@FanDuel) January 20, 2019
2. Haason Reddick, OLB, Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals’ recent edition of J.J. Watt has pushed Haason Reddick out the door and possibly into the Detroit Lions’ hands. Haason Reddick changed from ILB to OLB last season, and he dominated as a rush linebacker. The Temple product notched 12.5 sacks and six forced fumbles last season. Reddick isn’t a natural scheme fit for Detroit; however, a player of his caliber and dimensions would significantly improve Detroit’s pass rush. Detroit can run more 4-3 under to get Reddick on the field. Per an accurate source, Reddick’s camp is looking for around $10 million a year.
Expected contract: 4 years, $40,000,000
Yearly average: $10,000,000
1. Romeo Okwara, DE, Detroit Lions
Retaining homegrown talent is the most important step in any free agency period. Romeo Okwara was the Detroit Lions’ best defender last season by a solid mile. Okwara has an insane motor and a never-quit attitude. He broke out last season and notched ten sacks. He has gone from undrafted to one of the most physical defensive ends in football. The Notre Dame star is only 25 years old and has low mileage. Detroit has to retain Romeo Okwara if they’re going to ace this rebuild.
Expected contract: 4 years, $42,000,000
Yearly average: $10,500,000
Romeo Okwara bull rushing Morgan Moses before making an athletic sack in the backfield pic.twitter.com/vvifWm5GhG
— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) February 9, 2021