Lions Rumors

NFL Distributes Performance-Based Payouts

Since 2002, the NFL’s performance-based pay system has rewarded low-salary players who exceed their expected playing time. This year, due to the pandemic, the league and the players’ union negotiated a gradual payout schedule, one that will meter out the money between now and 2024.

All in all, the league divested $8.5MM per club. This year’s top earner is Buccaneers guard Alex Cappa, a 2018 third-round pick who played every single snap for the eventual champs. Cappa will now receive an extra $622K on top of his $750K base salary for 2021. Per the union’s records, 25 other players also topped $500K, including Cardinals tackle Kelvin Beachum ($604K), Bills cornerback Taron Johnson ($579K), Rams guard Austin Corbett ($573K), Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye ($572K), Bears tackle Germain Ifedi ($571K), Steelers offensive lineman Chukwuma Okorafor ($568K), Vikings offensive lineman Dakota Dozier ($561K), Ravens safety DeShon Elliott ($557K) and Bucs safety Jordan Whitehead ($555K).

The full list, going team-by-team, can be found here, courtesy of the NFLPA.

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Lions Sign S Dean Marlowe

Dean Marlowe‘s Wednesday Lions visit will produce an agreement. The Lions signed the veteran safety Thursday, bringing him over from the Bills.

One of the numerous Panthers to trek to Buffalo during the current Bills regime’s time, Marlowe spent the past three seasons in western New York. He will now join a rebuilding Lions team.

Marlowe, 28, spent his first two NFL seasons in Carolina. But the James Madison product only played five games with the Panthers. He did not crack a game-day roster more than five times until the 2019 season. Last year, however, Marlowe suited up for 15 Bills regular-season games and made four starts. Despite limited experience on defense, Marlowe intercepted two passes — both in the Bills’ Week 17 rout of the Dolphins — and broke up three more last season.

The Lions hosted veteran backup safety Will Parks on a visit earlier this week but for now will go with Marlowe at the position. He will join a team in need at safety, with the Lions having traded Quandre Diggs in 2019 and having seen Duron Harmon‘s contract expire after last season. Detroit still rosters young safeties Will Harris and Tracy Walker; Pro Football Focus graded each near the bottom at the position in 2020.

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Lions To Sign CB Quinton Dunbar

Quinton Dunbar took his Lions visit Monday, and the meeting produced an agreement. Dunbar agreed to a one-year deal with the Lions, according to his agency (on Twitter). It is a veteran salary benefit deal with a $990K base salary and a $137.5K signing bonus, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

This will be the veteran cornerback’s third team in three years. Washington traded Dunbar to Seattle last season. Injuries ended Dunbar’s lone Seahawks slate early, but he will attempt to bounce back with the Lions. The Cardinals had a Dunbar visit scheduled for this week, but the Lions will prevent that summit from taking place.

The Lions are adding Dunbar to their reconfigured cornerback mix. Under a new regime, the team released veterans Desmond Trufant and Justin Coleman to break up a corner troika (Trufant-Coleman-Jeff Okudah) that barely saw any time together. Okudah will now pair with Dunbar, who will reunite with ex-Washington assistant Aubrey Pleasant — Detroit’s new secondary coach.

Dunbar broke through in 2019, rating as one of Pro Football Focus’ top corners after a season in which he intercepted four passes and held opposing quarterbacks to a collective 61.2 passer rating. During a 2020 offseason that saw Dunbar encounter a legal issue that ended with charges dropped, Washington traded him to Seattle for a fifth-round pick. The 28-year-old defender played in just six games, with a knee injury and a subsequent surgery ending his season early.

Despite coming into the NFL in 2015, Dunbar has made only 31 starts. But the ex-Florida Gator entered the league as a UDFA and did not become a full-timer until 2019. He figures to be a starter alongside Okudah in 2021.

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Lions To Host S Will Parks On Visit

A free agent for the second straight year, Will Parks has received interest from multiple NFC North teams. The Lions are hosting the veteran safety on a visit, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

The Vikings are believed to have submitted an offer to Parks recently, but he opted to keep looking for a fit. A former seventh-round pick, Parks has spent most of his career with the Broncos. Despite his draft status, the Arizona alum has received extensive playing time as a pro.

Denver used Parks as a regular rotational cog but let him defect to Philadelphia in free agency last year. A Philly native, Parks was unable to stick with the Eagles throughout last season. Injury issues intervened on his homecoming, and the Eagles waived him in December. The Broncos claimed Parks and reinstalled him as a rotational presence. The 26-year-old defender has displayed versatility, working also as a sub-package linebacker as a pro. Prior to last season, when he missed six games, the 2016 draftee had only missed two as a pro.

The Lions are in transition at a few positions. Safety may not be one of them, as the team has not addressed this position yet this offseason. Detroit dealt Quandre Diggs before the 2019 trade deadline and has used lower-profile players — whom the previous regime drafted — at the position. Duron Harmon‘s contract expired after the 2020 season, and Pro Football Focus assigned poor grades to Will Harris and Tracy Walker last season.

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North Notes: Clowney, Vaitai, Parks

Let’s round up a few notes from the North divisions:

  • For the second year in a row, Jadeveon Clowney is drawing interest from the Browns. Though Clowney’s recent visit to Cleveland did not result in a contract, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com says the Browns still want to sign him if the price is right (and assuming the team is comfortable with his health). Clowney ultimately settled for a one-year, $13MM pact from the Titans last year after originally seeking a multi-year contract with an AAV of $20MM, and any deal he signs this year will likely be for much less than last year’s $13MM salary. But new Browns acquisition Malik Jackson believes Cleveland has what it takes to win the Super Bowl in 2021, and he suggested that Clowney should jump at the chance to sign up with the Browns. “If you want to hop on board, come hop on board,” Jackson said. “I understand the free agency market is not what he probably wants, but things are bigger than monetary value. You get a chance to be on a good team and set yourself up in the future.”
  • When the Lions signed Halapoulivaati Vaitai to a five-year, $50MM contract last offseason, most expected he would suit up at right tackle. He missed six games in 2020 due to injury, but he played five games at guard, four games at tackle, and he split time between the two positions in one other game. New head coach Dan Campbell says he currently plans to slot the TCU product at guard (via Tim Twentyman of the team’s official website). “[W]e’re a little intrigued about moving him inside to guard.” Campbell said. “That does intrigue us. We may as a starting point work there and see where we’re at.” Campbell should have a solid group to protect QB Jared Goff, with Taylor Decker at LT, Jonah Jackson at LG, Frank Ragnow at C, Vaitai at RG, and a deep OL draft to add a quality rookie at RT.
  • Before the Vikings signed former Cowboys safety Xavier Woods as part of their overhaul in the secondary, they tried to land Will Parks, as Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. Parks spent the first four years of his career in Denver before signing a one-year pact with the Eagles last offseason. He didn’t make it through the 2020 season with Philadelphia, as he was waived late in the season and was claimed by the Broncos (though the Vikings put in a claim as well). But according to Wolfson, Minnesota wanted to bring in Parks on a veteran minimum pact — which the club also tried with Woods — and Parks turned them down.

Lions To Sign Corn Elder

The Lions are making another addition to their defense. Detroit has agreed to terms with free agent cornerback Corn Elder, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets.

Rapoport writes that it’s a one-year “prove-it-deal,” so it’s presumably for pretty close to the veteran’s minimum. A Miami product, Elder was drafted by the Panthers in the fifth-round back in 2017. He missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury, then played only on special teams as a sophomore. He was waived during final cuts in 2019, and signed to the Giants’ practice squad.

Not too long after that Carolina signed him back off the Giants’ practice squad, and he ended up making real contributions on defense in 2020. Playing as part of a young Panthers secondary, he appeared in all 16 games and started one. He played a hair under 40 percent of the defensive snaps, racking up 40 tackles, three passes defended, and a forced fumble.

Detroit completely remade their secondary this offseason as they kicked off the Dan Campbell era, jettisoning former starters Justin Coleman and Desmond Trufant, so this dart throw can’t hurt.

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Quinton Dunbar To Visit Cardinals, Lions

Quinton Dunbar saw his stock diminish last year, but the veteran cornerback is drawing interest as a free agent. He has secured meetings with the Cardinals and Lions, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

After a breakout 2019 season in Washington, Dunbar was unable to secure an extension with the team’s new regime. Washington shipped one of its starting corners to Seattle for a fifth-round pick, and Dunbar did not provide much value for the Seahawks. He played just six games and could not match the performance level he established in his final Washington slate, allowing a 111 passer rating — after he had limited QBs to a collective 61.2 mark in 2019.

While the Seahawks also have a need at corner, Dunbar has not been linked to a new deal with them. He underwent knee surgery late last year. The 28-year-old defender will, however, meet with two teams in need at the position.

The rebuilding Lions cut both Desmond Trufant and Justin Coleman, and 2020 No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah is recovering from an injury that ended his season early. The Cardinals separated with Patrick Peterson after 10 seasons, and 2020 Arizona contributor Dre Kirkpatrick is no longer under contract. Arizona is a bit deeper than Detroit at this juncture, having Byron Murphy and the recently signed Malcolm Butler on its roster.

Wherever he lands, Dunbar will aim to return to the heights he reached in 2019. Although he only played 11 games, the former UDFA intercepted four passes and graded as a top-five corner in the view of Pro Football Focus. Dunbar has 31 starts in six seasons. Most of those came over the past three.

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Lions Obtain Pick 101 In Stafford Trade

  • The 2021 third-round draft choice the Rams are sending the Lions in the Goff-Stafford trade landed at No. 101 overall, according to the NFL transaction wire. The Rams will retain their original third-round pick (88th overall) and also still hold the No. 103 pick, obtained from the league after the Lions hired former Rams college scouting director Brad Holmes as GM.

Lions To Sign LB Alex Anzalone

New Lions coach Dan Campbell is getting the gang back together. Well not entirely, but he is adding a familiar face to his inaugural defense.

Detroit has agreed to terms on a deal with free agent linebacker Alex Anzalone, a source told Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link). It’s a one-year pact worth a modest $1.75MM, he reports. Campbell and Anzalone were together in New Orleans for the past four years when Campbell was an assistant head coach under Sean Payton. 

The Saints drafted Anzalone in the third-round back in 2017, and he spent his first four pro seasons with the team. This past season he appeared in all 16 games and started nine, playing almost exactly half of the defensive snaps. He finished with 41 tackles, three for a loss.

The Lions have so far made the defensive line more of a priority, adding guys like Michael Brockers and Charles Harris, and this is their first real addition to the linebacking corp.

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Lions To Sign WR/KR Kalif Raymond

The Lions have agreed to sign Kalif Raymond, per an announcement from his agents. The Titans non-tendered the wide receiver/kick returner earlier this year, freeing him up to sign with any club.

[RELATED: Lions’ Nick Williams Takes Pay Cut]

Raymond, 27 in August, has performed as one of the league’s better punt returners. He brought back 23 punts for 208 yards last year, good for a 9.0 yard average per try. He also returned 15 kickoffs for 275 yards total. After previous stints with the Broncos, Jets, and Giants (twice), he’ll push to make the Lions’ final cut in September.

After losing Kenny Golladay to the Giants and Marvin Jones to the Jaguars, the Lions are expected to keep searching for solutions at wide receiver. For now, they’ve added Raymond, Tyrell Williams, and Breshad Perriman to the group.

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