Lions Free Agency: Taking steps in the right direction

The Detroit Lions are off to a great start for the 2017 season, putting pen to paper with some big names and parting ways with others.


The first phase of the NFL free agency has passed us by and Lions fans all across the state are smiling at the first wave of big decisions made by GM Bob Quinn. The former Patriots director of scouting has made some major moves, letting go of a few long-time Lions in order to make room for their new initiative and drive to become a championship caliber franchise.

Quinn’s main objective, since arriving in Detroit’s front office last January, has been to revamp the Lions’ offensive line. He believes that one of the best ways to improve their offense is to give gunslinger Matthew Stafford as much time as possible in the pocket so that he can go through his progressions untouched and eat up yardage in the air. After finishing the 2015 season at a disappointing 7-9 by defeating the Chicago bears in week 17, the front line was made up of Riley Reiff, Manny Ramirez, Laken Tomlinson, Michael Ola, and Larry Warford. Out of all of those names, only Laken Tomlinson is still on the roster for the blue and silver. Even so, he will likely be battling for a spot during training camp. So what has Quinn done to replace the spots up front?

Taylor Decker

Quinn began his work in the 2016 draft by selecting former Ohio State tackle, Taylor Decker in the first round. The towering 6’7” 315 pounder fought hard in the trenches in his opening season, improving drastically after the first few games. He also drafted center Graham Glasgow out of the University of Michigan. The two unlikely teammates made quite the pair and were essential to Detroit’s pass protection in their first years in the league.

Graham Glasgow

Quinn still was not satisfied and made two massive pickups for Detroit from the free agency that has Detroit fans grinning from ear to ear. He was able to add two of the top names in the free agency in former Raven, Rick Wagner, and former Packer, T.J. Lang. Wagner was a brick wall for Baltimore, allowing just 2 sacks all season. For Lang, his story is a bit more intimate involving Lions fans.

T.J. Lang

The 29 year old grew up cheering for the Lions as a young boy. He was born in Royal Oak, Michigan and played high school football at Brother Rice. He went on and played for Eastern Michigan before being drafted by the Packers in the 2009 NFL draft. Lang was a pro bowler in 2016 and remarkably did not allow a single sack or quarterback hit the entire season. Detroit fans, and Matt Stafford especially, will be more than happy to have him wearing the blue and silver.

DeAndre Levy

One of the most well known names departing from Detroit this off season is long time linebacker, DeAndre Levy. Levy missed most of the 2016 campaign, facing injury after injury. The former pro bowler had been a reliable tackler for many seasons, delivering punishing blows to opponents and reacting to the quarterback quickly in coverage. To fill in for him, Quinn has chalked up a deal with former Falcons linebacker and special teams superstar Paul Worrilow. The Delaware graduate was a vicious hitter and open field tackler who fell short of a starting spot to a talenting LB core in Atlanta, but caught the attention of many with his 2016 season.

Paul Worrilow

Detroit has also signed Akeem Spence at defensive tackle, a strong player from Tampa Bay who has racked up 5.5 sacks in 56 career games. Spence would learn a lot from veteran DT, Haloti Ngata and try to keep up with A’Shawn Robinson. Spence will surely rotate in every few snaps to give the opposing line a run for their money. Perhaps one of the best stories of the 2016 season for Detroit, the rise of Kerry Hyder, will be adding some more chapters to his journey as a Lion as he returns for the 2017 campaign. Hyder was fighting for a spot on the team before the season started, working tirelessly on the practice squad until the coaching staff was forced to sign him onto the active roster. After becoming a starter, Hyder racked up 8 sacks and led the team at that number. A disappointing series of injuries for Ziggy Ansah allowed Hyder to put on a show and prove to the coaches that he truly is the real deal.

Kerry Hyder

Things are looking up in Detroit after a positive couple of days in the free agent market. It is evident that Bob Quinn is doing all that he can to turn Detroit into a championship franchise, even if that means letting go of a few players, some of whom have been around for a while. Quinn’s vision in finding and developing talent will surely provide the Lions with that extra element of off season improvement that has been missing for so long. Now, they need to put pen to paper with the most important element to their offense, Matthew Stafford. Their offensive line is looking better than ever, and the former Georgia QB is now heading into his ninth season. He is no spring chicken anymore and needs to finally prove to the Lions faithful why he truly is the franchise man. All that is left is a few more moves in the Lion’s secondary, and we could have ourselves a very exciting 2017 season to look forward to.