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Why The Lions Three Free Agency Signings Was Good

I have heard some grumbling over the Lions signings so far in free agency. So I figured I would explain why I think each of them have been good so far. Much of this will sound redundant from some of my other articles but I felt it would be good to sum it all up in one place.

Lions trade a 5th round pick to the Cleveland Browns for DT - Corey Williams and a 7th round pick. In the 2006 and the 2007 seasons, Williams had 7 sacks each year. That is a couple more sacks than any Lions got last year. Those were the last two years Williams played for the Packers. Then Williams was traded to the Browns who ran a 3-4 defense and moved him to Defensive End, and his production fell off the charts. Keep in mind that even Aaron Kampman's production fell off when the Packers changed to a 3-4 defense. Since Detroit plays a 4-3 defense, it is logical to believe that Williams might return to form. If he does not? The Lions payed very little to get him. Virtually all they did was move from a 5th rounder down to a 7th rounder.

When free agency began at 12:01 AM on March 5th, coach Jim Schwartz was already waiting in the drive way of DE - Kyle Vanden Bosch. Many would have wanted him to go after Kampman, but Vanden Bosch was the right choice. As Schwartz had a history with Vanden Bosch, he was pretty sure he could sign him. The odds of getting Kampman were much lower and if the Lions would have chased Kampman first they might have ended up with neither. It was better to go for the sure thing. Kyle Vanden Bosch is 32 years old. For a running back that would be very worrisome. He is a defensive end. He does not take near as much punishment. In Vanden Bosch's first 3 years with Tennessee, he had 201 tackles and 31 sacks. As the Titans Defensive Tackle play fell, so did Vanden Bosch's. It is evident that Kyle is not a great DE, but he is a good enough DE to put up good numbers if he has a DT who will draw a double team. If the Lions draft Ndamukong Suh and if Williams works out, Vanden Bosch should be a good addition.

Then the Lions signed WR - Nate Burleson. Nate will turn 29 in August and for a WR that is not old. On a bad Seattle team in 2009, Burleson hauled in 63 catches for 812 yards and 3 touchdowns. Only 16 catches and 99 yards less than T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Now playing opposite Calvin Johnson there is no reason he should not duplicate those number. Burleson has good speed and sure hands. He works hard every play. He is a huge up-grade over Bryant Johnson. It sounds like the Lions over paid for him with a 25 million contract and 10 million guaranteed, but most if not all of the guaranteed money will be paid upfront in the 2010 no-cap year. So we are talking about spending another 14 million over the next 4 years? For a decent receiver that is not very expensive.

As some are worried that all of the players are older, it is not a worry to me. There are usually not very many younger players available in free agency and when they are, there is usually a reason for it. Far more often than not, in free agency you will be signing veterans who are in the last few years of their careers, over priced players or stars with baggage. It is rare to get a very good player in his prime who is a hard worker. When one of those are available, they will command top money and choose to go to a better team. Not a team in rebuilding mode.

The only DE I would rather have had over Vanden Bosch would have been Kampman. But as I said, I was glad they went for the sure thing to help the team rather than lose the race for Kampman and miss out on Vanden Bosch as well. Their were not a lot of great DT's in free agency this year that I am aware of. Considering how well Williams played as a DT, and knowing he is a pass rushing DT, makes me all the more glad the Lions got him. He and Suh would wreak havoc in the middle. There were a few top receivers out there, but do you truly believe someone like Brandon Marshall would have been willing to play 2nd fiddle to Calvin Johnson? No, the secret was to find a #2 receiver and the Lions did just that.

If you want young players who can turn into stars, that will come in the draft. If you wanted younger players who were already stars? you were dreaming. The Lions just are not good enough yet to make those want to come to Detroit. The Lions signed good veterans who still have 3 to 5 years left in their careers. They addressed a few of the many holes they had. They set themselves up to put more of a focus on certain positions in the draft.

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