The Detroit Lions seem to be doing all they can to avoid a repeat of their 2018 season. In head coach Matt Patricia’s debut year, the team finished with a record of 6-10 and placed last within the NFC North. With the free agent market heating up, the Lions have made a few big moves. The team agreed to sign Trey Flowers, Jesse James, Danny Amendola and Justin Coleman all within 24 hours.
Legally, the contracts of these players cannot be signed until March 13 at 4 p.m. which is the beginning of the new league year. But, the NFL’s legal tampering window opened on March 11 at noon. This means players are allowed to begin talks with other teams and build contracts.
With that being said, here is a breakdown of each of the Lions’ day one free agent signings:
Trey Flowers – Defensive End
Former New England Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers was one of the most anticipated free agents to hit the market in 2019. The pass rusher’s front seven versatility is what made him such a highly sought out asset.
In Flowers’ four years with the Patriots, he racked up 164 combined tackles and 21 sacks. The defensive end’s productivity has progressed with each year he has been in the league. This gives Flowers tremendous upside potential and explains why his former coach, Matt Patricia, was interested in signing him.
After the Lions disappointing 2018 campaign, it is not surprising that Patricia would bring in a familiar face. Noting that Flowers is one of the three former Patriots that the Lions have agreed to sign, Patricia seems eager to introduce some of the successes he experienced in New England to his new team.
The contract that the Lions agreed to is set to earn Flowers approximately $16 million per season over the next five years. Matt Patricia knows the skill set of Flowers which ultimately led to the pass rusher earning a long term deal.
Jesse James – Tight End
With Luke Wilson and Levine Toilolo not expected to return, the tight end position has been in shambles for the Detroit Lions. With such a big need at tight-end, the Lions have agreed to sign former Pittsburgh Steeler Jesse James.
The team could not ask for much better than James as he is an all-around decent tight-end in both receiving and blocking. In addition, James is only 24 years old. This gives him plenty of time to develop over the years with his new team.
The Lions traded wide receiver, Golden Tate, last year mid-season. Since then, the team has been in need of a reliable pass catcher. James may be the solution to this problem. He caught 30 passes for 423 yards and two touchdowns in 2018.
The tight end has also proven to be an effective blocker throughout his career. According to Pro Football Focus, James was graded 15th in pass blocking and 29th in run blocking out of 81 qualifiers at the tight end position. His 6-foot-7, 261-pound frame gives him the ability to help his team in more ways than just receiving.
Danny Amendola – Wide Receiver
The Lions have agreed to sign wide receiver Danny Amendola after being cut by the Miami Dolphins on Friday. The contract agreed upon is a one-year deal worth approximately $4.5 million in guaranteed money. In addition, the contract has incentives that can add up to $1.25 million to his salary.
Over the years, Amendola been an effective slot wide-receiver. In his 2018 season with Miami, Amendola caught 59 passes for 575 yards and a touchdown. Averaging 9.7 yards per reception, the slot receiver has proven to be excellent in short yardage situations. But, the receiver’s skill set is not the only reason the Lions signed him.
Amendola is another ex-Patriot that the Lions have decided to bring in. Having worked with Amendola in New England, Matt Patricia was probably the main influence in the wide-receiver’s signing. Amendola is 33 years old with ten years of NFL experience. As Patricia goes into his second year as a head coach, it is a good move to bring a veteran into the locker room.
Justin Coleman – Cornerback
Justin Coleman has agreed to sign with the Lions on a four-year deal worth $36 million. The deal is set to make Coleman the highest paid slot cornerback in the NFL.
Coleman played for the Seattle Seahawks for the past two seasons. In those seasons, the slot corner gathered 90 combined tackles, two sacks and threee interceptions (two of them returned for touchdowns). Coleman’s big play-maker abilities are what make him arguably the best slot corner in the NFL.
Before showing his skills in Seattle, the cornerback played for the New England Patriots. Being on the defensive side of the ball, Coleman played for Matt Patricia, the former Patriots defensive coordinator.
Although Coleman did not get much playing time in New England, Patricia played a big role in the cornerback’s development. Now that Coleman is set to be a Detroit Lion, Patricia will be able to apply the corner’s skill set into his defense once again.
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