The popular topic of discussion concerning the Detroit Lions this offseason has been the 2014 NFL Draft. While that’s all fine and dandy, the Lions’ needs will drastically change following their moves during the free agency period.
Shortly after Detroit placed a second-round tender on running back Joique Bell, the two parties were able to come to terms on a two-year extension worth $7 million, with $4.3 million guaranteed.
Under the terms of the second-round tender, Bell will make $2.187 million during the 2014 season and the contract-extension will come into effect at the start of the 2015 season.
Bell’s breakout season in 2013 included 1,197 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns. The Lions’ one-two punch of Bell and Reggie Bush will continue to be a lethal combination for years to come.
Detroit has also agreed to terms with wide receiver Kevin Ogletree on a one-year deal worth $795,000.
Ogletree joined the Lions after being released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers mid-season. He played in 12 games for Detroit, catching 13 passes for 199 yards and one touchdown.
The re-signing of Ogletree, however, does not solve the Lions’ issues at the wide receiver position. Outside of Calvin Johnson, Detroit does not have a starting-caliber receiver. Kris Durham, Ryan Broyles, Jeremy Ross, and Patrick Edwards are currently the only receivers who are under contract and played in games for Detroit last season.
The popular solution for the Lions has been the possibility of drafting former Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Although there is mutual interest in bringing the collegiate-superstar to Detroit, it is unlikely he will fall to the Lions in the draft.
The more likely scenario is to address that need via free agency.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate will visit with the team on Tuesday night. As early as it is in the free agent period, this will be Tate’s first visit of the free agency period, and hopefully his last.
Ultimately leading to a Super Bowl victory, Tate had a productive season in 2013 as he spent the majority of his time as the Seahawks’ primary receiver. He caught 64 balls for 898 yards and five touchdowns last season and those numbers could skyrocket if he had Megatron lined up on the opposite side of the field.
With nearly $10 million worth of cap space entering Tuesday, Detroit will need to address one of their three major needs (receiver, cornerback, and safety) during free agency and they need to do so quickly.
Free agents at the safety position are moving fast, including former Lion Louis Delmas who has signed a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins.
Whatever transaction may take place in the upcoming days, the formula for the draft is simple: Sign a receiver, address needs in the secondary in the draft. Sign a cornerback, use the early rounds to draft a receiver and safety. Sign a safety, draft a receiver and cornerback.
The focus in Detroit is currently on free agents and deals are being made rapidly.