Lions Rumors

Lions Meet With Manti Te’o

The Lions hosted Saints free agent linebacker Manti Te’o on a visit, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Te’o, who also recently met with the Raiders, could be set to move on from New Orleans

The seem fairly well set at middle linebacker with Alex Anzalone, Craig Robertson, and Darnell Sankey in the fold, so the Saints might only be willing to go so far to retain the 28-year-old Te’o. Te’o, meanwhile, would probably prefer a situation that offers more playing time.

Te’o just finished a two-year pact that he signed with the Saints in 2017 and saw action in just five contests (two starts) last year, compiling 18 total tackles. However, in 2017, he started in eleven games and played reasonably well.

For his career, Te’o has started in 47 contests, though he’s lost a good deal of time to injuries since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2013. If he signs with Detroit, he may have a path to more playing time, provided that he can stay on the field.

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Lions Sign Rams’ Brown To Offer Sheet

Rams reserve running back Malcolm Brown agreed to the terms of an offer sheet with the Lions, Field Yates of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). The Rams have until Monday to match it and retain Brown.

The Lions’ offer sheet is worth $3.25MM over two years, with $1MM guaranteed and a $100K signing bonus, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets.

A 2015 UDFA, Brown has been with the Rams his entire career. However, the restricted free agent visited the Lions last week. Since Los Angeles placed an original-round tender on the back, Detroit will not need to surrender any draft compensation in order to pry Brown away.

Brown suffered a clavicle injury that prevented him from playing in the team’s three playoff games. The Rams then signed C.J. Anderson, and the well-traveled-in-2018 back thrived behind Todd Gurley. Anderson remains a free agent, but given his quick assimilation in Sean McVay‘s offense, he would be a candidate to return and back up Gurley — especially given the injury-related uncertainty surrounding the starter. The Rams also have 2018 sixth-round pick John Kelly on their roster, so this process may end up with Brown in Detroit.

The Lions re-signed Zach Zenner and still have Theo Riddick, but Brown may profile as a better run-downs backup for Kerryon Johnson.

Brown, 25, averaged 4.9 yards per carry last season. He received 63 and 43 carries, respectively, the past two seasons, playing behind a first-team All-Pro. With Johnson coming off a rookie season limited to 10 games, it would stand to reason Brown would receive more work in Detroit.

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Lions Sign WR Tommylee Lewis

The Lions have signed wide receiver Tommylee Lewis, per a club announcement. The former Saints receiver visited the Lions late last week and, days later, they’ve inked a deal. 

Lewis was non-tendered by the Saints earlier this month, making him an unrestricted free agent. The 26-year-old has 20 career receptions, but he’s spent the majority of his three-year career on special teams. Lewis averaged 22 yards on kick returns and 9.3 yards on punt returns during his stint in New Orleans.

The Lions recently added one potential returner in Danny Amendola, and they’re also rostering Jamal Agnew, who had 40 combined returns for Detroit in 2018. We’re still awaiting terms of the deal, but it sounds like Lewis may have to compete for his place on the team.

Lewis also met with the Jets before inking his deal with Detroit.

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Rashaan Melvin To Visit Lions

Well-traveled cornerback Rashaan Melvin will visit the Lions on Wednesday, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Melvin started seven games for the Raiders last season, and he was a solid regular with the Colts in his two seasons in Indianapolis prior to that.

He did not have an impressive 2018 campaign with Oakland after signing a one-year, $5.5MM pact with the club last March, but he is certainly a capable CB. Following a breakout season in 2016, Melvin was just as productive in 2017, finishing with 36 tackles, three interceptions, and 13 passes defended. Pro Football Focus was particularly fond of his performance that year, ranking him 17th among 120 eligible cornerbacks.

The fact that he butted heads with Raiders head coach Jon Gruden last season is unlikely to be held against him. In Detroit, Melvin could start on the outside opposite Pro Bowler Darius Slay.

The Lions have already addressed their defensive backfield in free agency by adding slot corner Justin Coleman last week, and they’re obviously not done.

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Lions To Meet With Spencer Ware

Former Chiefs running back Spencer Ware will visit the Lions on Monday, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). The Lions already have Kerryon Johnson as their primary back and Theo Riddick as their pass-catching specialist, but Ware could provide the club with additional depth. 

Ware first made noise in 2015 when he ran for 403 yards with the Chiefs and averaged 5.6 yards per carry in a limited sample. In 2016, he was the Chiefs’ starter and amassed 921 yards with a 4.3 yards per tote average. His usage fluctuated over the course of three healthy years in KC, but the 27-year-old’s 4.7 ypc shows promise.

Ware appeared to be primed for stardom after that ’16 season, but a torn PCL cost him the 2017 campaign. Last year, he had an opportunity to shine again after Kareem Hunt was cut, but a hamstring injury took him out of the running for the final stretch. He returned for the AFC title game, but didn’t have a major role in the loss to the Pats.

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Eagles’ Haloti Ngata Retires From NFL

After 13 years in the NFL, Haloti Ngata is calling it a career. On Monday morning, Ngata took to Instagram to bid farewell to the Eagles and the game he loves. 

Just a man standing on top of the world with a heart full of gratitude,” Ngata wrote. “Thank you Lord for letting me play the game I love for 13 unforgettable years. I’m retiring on top. I might be finished playing football, but I’m holding tight to the friendships, memories and wisdom I’ve gained along the way.”

Ngata 35, enjoyed a long run as one of the league’s most feared defensive linemen. Over the course of his 13-year career, Ngata earned five Pro Bowl nods, two First-Team All-Pro selections, and captured a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens.

Last year, Ngata was initially set for a fill-in role with Philly, but he wound up seeing more snaps than expected while Tim Jernigan was sidelined. His final year ended with 17 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble. He ranked as Pro Football Focus’ 55th best interior defender – a respectable placement for an aging veteran.

Ngata will be missed by the Eagles, though the recent addition of Malik Jackson and the continued presence of Fletcher Cox should offset the loss. It’s also likely that the Eagles will target defensive tackle help in the draft.

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Poll: Which Big FA Spender Made The Most Of Its Money?

The first wave of free agency is over, and a number of starter-quality players remain available. That list includes the likes of Justin Houston, Ndamukong Suh, and Ziggy Ansah, all of whom could still command lucrative multi-year pacts.

However, much of the big money has already been spent, and while it seems that the the free agency “winners” often have difficulty translating their offseason success into regular season wins, it is always worth taking an early guess at how the top free agents will impact their new teams (or how well the contracts of players who were eligible for free agency but who re-signed with their original clubs will age).

Yesterday, we directed our readers to a page provided by OverTheCap.com that tracks team-by-team spending on all contracts that free agents have signed since the Super Bowl. The page breaks down spending into categories like total contract value, total guarantees, and full guarantees.

For purposes of this poll, we will examine the top five spenders thus far in terms of total contract value. We realize that may be an imperfect measure, given that even blue chip free agents often do not play out the entirety of their contacts, but we also feel as though it accurately depicts which teams were most prepared to make big commitments to immediately improve their rosters. Plus, the list of the top five spenders in terms of total contract value is almost identical to the list of the top five spenders in terms of total guarantees, though the Bills, not the Packers, would be a top-five team if we were using total guarantees as a guide.

In any event, let’s quickly review what the big spenders have done with their money so far.

New York Jets

The Jets entered free agency with the most money to spend, and they did not disappoint. GM Mike Maccagnan, on a quest to keep his job, has doled out contracts worth nearly $200MM, and about half of that money is fully-guaranteed. The big fish, of course, are C.J. Mosley and Le’Veon Bell, both of whom should immediately improve their respective units, although both come with some question marks. Mosley is a high-character, intelligent player who is generally strong against the run but who is not particularly gifted in coverage, so it’s fair to wonder whether he will justify the Jets’ commitment to him. Bell, meanwhile, is undoubtedly explosive, and the Jets structured his contract in a team-friendly way, but he also comes with obvious character concerns and a lot of wear-and-tear. Re-signing Henry Anderson was a more low-key move that could nonetheless pay major dividends.

Green Bay Packers

Packers fans are not used to seeing their team mentioned as a big free agency spender, but the club has given out over $184MM to its signees thus far (though less than one-third of that figure is guaranteed). Green Bay has made a concerted effort to upgrade its pass rush as it prepares to bid adieu to long-time QB hunter Clay Matthews, and to that end, it acquired former Raven Za’Darius Smith and former Redskin Preston Smith. Neither player has a double-digit sack season to his credit, but both are young and come with plenty of upside. Za’Darius Smith has also shown an ability to provide a pass rush from the interior of the line, and Preston Smith is a strong overall edge defender who still has room to grow. Former Bears safety Adrian Amos was also acquired to add some much-needed physicality to the back end of the defense.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers made two big splashes at the outset of free agency, signing former Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander and trading for (and extending) former Chiefs pass rusher Dee Ford. Alexander is coming off a season-ending ACL tear, but San Francisco is betting that he can make a full recovery and return to form. The club was also in dire need of someone who can get to the QB, and they believe Ford is that guy. Ford has had an up-and-down career thus far, and though the Niners gave him what appears to be a massive contract (five years, $87.5MM), they can get out of that deal fairly quickly with minimal salary cap ramifications. The club is also taking a low-risk, high-reward gamble on talented but injury-prone corner Jason Verrett, and they added Tevin Coleman to their stable of running backs.

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders grabbed headlines when they traded for star wideout Antonio Brown, but because he wasn’t a free agent, the new deal he landed from the club doesn’t factor into the $165MM worth of contracts that the team has handed out in free agency. That number does include deals for Tyrell Williams — who will pair with AB to lead what could become a prolific passing attack — and Trent Brown, who will likely be tasked with protecting Derek Carr‘s blindside. The Raiders were also in on Bell, and they added safety Lamarcus Joyner to serve as Karl Joseph‘s running mate in their defensive backfield. They still need some pass rush help and could be players in the market for Houston and Ansah.

Detroit Lions

The Lions were projected by many to be active in the free agent market, and they spent some money to try and keep pace in a crowded NFC North. The big-money acquisition was former Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers, who may end up replacing Ansah as the club’s top sack artist (though the Lions have not ruled out re-signing Ansah). The Lions brought in tight end Jesse James, who offers some ability as a pass catcher and who is also a strong pass blocker, and they added Danny Amendola in the hopes that he can provide Matthew Stafford the type of reliable slot target that he lost when the club traded Golden Tate last season. Another free agent acquisition, Justin Coleman, should represent an upgrade at nickel corner.

So have at it. Which of the five big spenders made the most of their money? Let us know what you think in the poll and in the comment section.

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Lions To Re-Sign CB Marcus Cooper

Having been cut midway through last season, Marcus Cooper changed NFC North allegiances recently. He will stay with his second 2018 team.

The Lions are re-signing Cooper, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio tweets. The veteran cornerback arrived in Detroit via waiver claim in November and looks set to stay in the Motor City as a depth piece.

Cooper played just 39 snaps last season, being buried on Chicago’s depth chart. With Detroit, he figures to compete for time as a backup and contribute on special teams. With the 2017 Bears, Cooper started four games but was benched during that season. He was a full-time player with the 2016 Cardinals, leading to a mid-level Bears contract a year later.

The 29-year-old defender has made 28 starts in a six-season career, having intercepted seven passes. All of those picks came during his two most prominent years as a corner — 2013 in Kansas City and 2016 in Arizona. The Lions added Justin Coleman earlier this week but still have some uncertainty beyond he and Darius Slay, so it would not be surprising if more additions arrived later this offseason.

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Lions To Host TE Daniel Brown

Tight end Daniel Brown is set to visit with the Lions today, reports Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter). The reporter notes that the free agent has four teams interested in his services.

After a two-year stint with the Ravens, the former undrafted free agent out of James Madison has spent the past three seasons with the Bears. He was relatively productive offensive;ly between 2016 and 2017, hauling in 29 total receptions. However, he went without a catch in 2018 despite appearing in 14 games (he also contributed on special teams). Pro Football Focus ultimately gave him adequate grades despite his low snap count.

The Lions have already added one tight end in Jesse James, and they’re also rostering former fourth-rounder Michael Roberts. Detroit has a trio of free agent tight ends in Levine ToiloloLuke Willson, and Jerome Cunningham.

Lions To Host RB Malcolm Brown, WR/KR Tommylee Lewis

The Lions are hosting a pair of offensive players on visits. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports (via Twitter) that wideout/returner Tommylee Lewis and running back Malcolm Brown will be visiting Detroit.

Brown was tendered by the Rams earlier this week. As a former undrafted free agent, the Lions wouldn’t be required to give up any compensation for signing the running back. The 25-year-old has spent his entire four-year career with the Rams organization, and he’s spent the better part of the past two seasons serving as the top backup to Todd Gurley. In 2018, Brown ran for 212 yards on 43 carries, good for a career-high 4.9-yard average. His season ended on the injured reserve, leading to the team’s signing of veteran C.J. Anderson.

In Detroit, Brown would likely slide into a depth chart that’s currently led by Kerryon Johnson, Theo Riddick, and Zach Zenner. The team has also added a pair of running backs in Kerwynn Williams and Mark Thompson.

Lewis was non-tendered by the Saints the other day. The 26-year-old does have 20 career receptions, but he’s spent the majority of his three-year career on special teams. Lewis averaged 22 yards on kick returns and 9.3 yards on punt returns during his stint in New Orleans. The Lions recently added one potential returner in Danny Amendola, and they’re also rostering Jamal Agnew, who had 40 combined returns for Detroit in 2018.

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