By Eric Thomas
Yesterday, I wrote an optimistic blog about the Lions so far in free agency. I was wrong around the time I hit send. By 8 p.m., I realized the Lions were on track for another mediocre season in 2014.
They laid an egg in free agency yesterday. It was pathetic. The Lions did absolutely nothing at all, other than give Joique Bell more money than most teams would have, and re-sign Kevin Ogletree. Really? THAT was the priority? Ogletree wasn’t good last year, (a combined 269 yards for two different teams) so they brought him back to be not good for another season with the Lions? Those moves would only make sense for continuity’s sake, and the Lions changed coaches this year. What advantage did Ogletree gain in his performance last year? He knows where to park?
The Lions looked poised to improve yesterday, but they sat on their hands while every available safety was snapped up by other teams. T.J. Ward went to Denver, Donte Whitner went to Cleveland, Jenkins went to the Eagles and Mitchell went to Pittsburgh. Way to go, guys. You’ve somehow made one of the league’s worst defensive secondaries even worse. Do you wish they would have kept Louis Delmas now? And if you do, do you realize how BAD that is?!
Today, the Lions welcomed a few free agents into Allen Park. They signed Golden Tate, the guy famous for one catch that was incorrectly called, the guy who caught for a COMBINED 609 yards in his first two seasons before Seattle got a quarterback who’s a running threat, the guy who was the Seahawks punt returner and posted 0 returns for touchdowns (one less than Jeremy Ross), the guy with a total of eight catches in the post season last year—THAT’S the guy the Lions signed to (if reports are to be believed) a FIVE year deal worth a guaranteed $13.5 million. That’s a lot of money for a #2 wide receiver.
The other free agents visiting at Allen Park today? They would be former Dallas center Phil Costa and former New York Giants fullback Henry Hynoski. I’m sorry, but…what? Costa was an outright disappointment in Dallas, where he so struggled with blocking assignments that the Cowboys brought in TWO free agents to help him against larger defensive fronts (his size has always been an issue) and has spent most of his career with the Cowboys riding the bench after he was signed as an undrafted free agent following the 2010 NFL Draft.
As for Mr Hynoski, with all due respect, he’s coming off a season where he played three games. By the way, if you took “Lions fly in a relatively obscure fullback” in this year’s Eric Thomas aneurism pool, you win! Collect your prize at my funeral.
Blame Ndamukong Suh if you want. He dragged his feet finding an agent this winter. Martin Mayhew said he was ready to work out a deal with Suh several times in the media this off-season, but Suh felt it was a more pressing need to sign Jay-Z as an “entertainment” agent before he finally decided to ink Jimmy Sexton FOUR DAYS before the start of free agency, leaving the Lions very little money for free agents or options.
If they’re going to get significantly better, the team must turn to the draft, and hope that Aaron Rogers and Jay Cutler won’t notice that they’re playing against a rookie safety in four games next year. Seems unlikely. What seems a lot more likely, is that the same team with the same depth problems will be on the field next year, with zero improvement and somehow LESS depth in the defensive secondary.
This off-season was critical for the Lions. It’s early in free agency, but a lot of damage has already been done. Meet the new team, as easy to throw against as the old team. What’s it going to take before the Lions decide to finally address what has been a GLARING need for four years now?