Howard, 28, was released by the Bears during final cutdowns after having a signed a one-year pact in May. A longtime Chief, Howard only suited up eight times and made five starts last year, as a hip injury ended his season in November. During his limited action in 2016, Howard added 23 tackles and a sack, and ranked 55th in performance among Pro Football Focus‘ 127 qualified interior defensive linemen.
Detroit needs all the help it can get in the front seven, as the club’s defensive line has been decimated by injuries and suspensions. Kerry Hyder and Jordan Hill have both been placed on injured reserve, while Armonty Bryant and Khyri Thornton won’t return until Weeks 4 and 6, respectively, after being hit with league-imposed bans.
Quarterback is a less-pressing need for the Lions, as Matthew Stafford and Jake Rudock comprise the team’s top two options under center. Seventh-round pick Brad Kaaya was lost via waivers earlier this month, and Detroit doesn’t currently have a signal-caller on its practice squad. Grayson, a former third-round selection of the Saints, has never attempted an NFL pass.
Howard and Grayson weren’t the only free agents on display in the Motor City. Per Balzer, the Lions also took a look at quarterback Mitch Leidner; wide receivers C.J. Board, Montay Crockett, Anthony Dable, Cyril Grayson, Bug Howard, and Jordan Payton; defensive tackles Jeremy Faulk, Marcus Hardison, and Louis Trinca-Pasat; defensive end Patrick Gamble; LB Nicholas Grigsby; and S Jack Tocho.