Which Profiles Should Dan Campbell Seek?
By: Rachel Maries (Twitter: @rachmariesports)
The Detroit Lions are set to start the 2021 season with a new general manager, a new head coach, and hopefully a new winning culture. This means that plenty of offseason moves are on the horizon. So let’s take a look at 5 potential new faces that the team could pursue via free agency to kick off this “retool” with a bang!
- Allen Robinson
Allen Robinson will test the waters of free agency in 2021. And, if I’m the Lions, I’m considering rowing out to pick him up…if the price is right.
In the middle of the 2020 season, it was rumored that Robinson wanted out of Chicago. He even changed his Twitter bio to read, “Detroit vs Everybody” (Robinson is a Detroit native). With the team not coming to terms on a contract extension for Kenny Golladay, could it be possible that Robinson would come “home” for a better price?
After all, the stats don’t lie, and the only wide receiver in the league with more contested catches since 2018 than Golladay, is Robinson. Both rank in the top 5 of PFF’s 2021 free-agent rankings. Robinson did not hesitate to share the tweet to let everyone know.
Plus, throughout Robinson’s career, you have to admit the quarterback play surrounding him has been subpar at best. If the Lions hold onto Matthew Stafford, the Stafford-Robinson connection would, I’m sure, be a thing of beauty.
2. Lavonte David
We all know that this past season the Lions’ defense was bad. I mean, really bad. 32nd ranked bad. Worse than the 0-16 team bad. How can they start to fix the defensive mess? Let’s start with a crazy talented linebacker: Lavonte David.
If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t offer David an extension, you can easily see how it would be wise for the Lions to give him a look. According to the Buccaneers website: “The numbers that Buccaneers ILB Lavonte David has accumulated through the first nine seasons of his NFL career are on par with some of the best linebackers of the Super Bowl era”.
The Buccaneers team website also tells us that in his almost nine seasons in the league David has put up 1,098 tackles, 12 interceptions, 52 passes defended, 22 forced fumbles, 16 fumble recoveries, 24 sacks, and 126 tackles for a loss.
He is in elite company with those stats and you can read more about his accolades here. It may not be likely that the Bucs let him retire elsewhere, but if they do, the Lions need to be ready to fire the cannons…
3. Leonard Williams
Williams is coming off of a HOT season in New York and could bring the interior pressure the Lions have so desperately needed. It may cost the team a pretty penny, but something’s gotta give with this defense’s struggles.
This past season, Williams notched 11.5 sacks AND 30 quarterback hits. It’s these numbers that landed Williams the number 3 spot on ESPN’s top free agents list. At just 26 years old, one could hope for many more seasons with premiere play. Something for the Lions to think about when assessing the cap hit versus desired results on the field.
4. Juju Smith-Schuster
It appears that Smith-Schuster’s time in Pittsburgh will come to an end before the start of the 2021 season. This could end up a timely coincidence for the Lions as their slot receiver, Danny Amendola, is set to hit free agency as well.
Amendola had become a nice security blanket for Matthew Stafford when he could not find much deep downfield. But, with Matt Patricia’s time now over in Detroit, it is highly unlikely we’ll see Amendola back in the Honolulu blue.
With Juju primarily lining up as a slot receiver as well, and at only 24 years old, there’s potential here to fill a need with a young veteran with a fan-pleasing personality. And hey, it might be nice for the fans in Detroit to be able to remember him for something other than the viral bicycle touchdown celebration at Ford Field in 2017.
5. Justin Simmons
I know this article has already harped plenty on the sordidness of this past year’s Lions defense, but did you see it?! Simmons is coming off of a top tier season in Denver and could certainly help the Lions secondary to learn a thing or two.
Over the 2020 season, Simmons accrued 5 interceptions, 9 passes defended, and 96 tackles. Duron Harmon, the Lions starting safety and defensive captain, only finished the season with 2 interceptions, 5 passes defended, and 76 tackles.
Another signing that would hit the Lions where it hurts, the wallet, but a significant upgrade indeed.
The offseason is fast approaching, and while the Lions won’t have nearly enough money in the bank to make moves on all of these stars, I’m sure One Pride will be satisfied as long as the team makes a splash or two. Time to get serious and right this ship!