The Detroit Lions finished 2014 with an impressive 11-5 record. The Lions look to build on this strong 2014 season with another double digit win showcase in 2015. Here is a recap of the Lions offseason moves, draft and 2015 outlook.
Free Agency and Trade Defensive Line Shuffle
The 2015 offseason has brought some changes to the Lions defensive line with a change from all-stomp Defensive Tackle Ndamakong Suh and all fudge Defensive Tackle Nick Fairley leaving Detroit through over paid free agency. Detroit countered trading for former all-pro Defensive Tackle Haloti Ngata using 4th and 5th round picks in 2015. Detroit added a young versatile DT in Tyrunn Walker snagged from the Saints who let Walker go by not tendering him in restricted free agency for cap reasons.
Both moves do not count towards the compensatory picks while Suh and Fairley departing should net Detroit a 3rd and 5th rounder in the 2016 draft. Detroit upgrades in run defense through the Ngata trade and added some pass rush too. Ngata will take on the double teams in the middle and allow Ziggy Ansah, Jason Jones, Tyrunn Walker and blitzers single blocking matchups. Did they add enough pass rush to counter the loss of Suh? Both Ngata and Walker graded well in pass rush in 2014 so the Lions have a great shot to upgrade the pass rush in 2015. Fairley missed half the year and backup CJ Mosley was not a good pass rusher so the Ngata and Walker combo could be an upgrade combined if Ngata can get close to Suh’s production in a penetrating Austin scheme.
Out with the Old
Detroit cut 30 year old RB Reggie Bush due to not fitting the scheme, age and drop/fumble factors. Detroit let veteran center Dominic Raiola and Left guard Rob Sims test the free agent market due to age and 2014 regression and both remain on the open market. CJ Mosely sfollowed Suh to Miami. Mosley is a good run defender but not much of a pass rusher and was suspended a game in 2014 for drug related issues. Former full back Jed Collins signed with Dallas as their new fullback but was replaced in the draft. Collins was recently released by the Cowboys. Backup Right Tackles Corey Hilliard retired after signing with the Jets and Garret Reynolds signed with the Rams on a decent two year deal for versatile backup.
Savvy Trade for a Lost Restricted Free Agent
Detroit traded top reserve DE George Johnson for a 5th round pick in exchange for a 7th round pick acquired from the Ngata trade. This was a good last minute move since Johnson was most likely gone as a restricted free agent with an offer from Tampa Bay and Detroit has young defensive ends of Devin Taylor and Larry Webster to take his reserve role.
The Lions re-signed many of their own this off-season. Detroit brought back a good starting number 2 CB in Rashean Mathis on a two year deal and their top backup safety and special team ace in Isa Abdul Quddus. The Lions re-signed both of their backup QBs in Dan Orlovsky (one year) and Kellen Moore (2 year deal). The Lions re-signed kicker Matt Prater to a team friendly three year deal and long snapper Don Mulhbach (one year). The Lions brought back closed end backup Daryl Tapp on a one year deal.
The Lions added a slew of veterans after the draft including slot WR Lance Moore to fit Lombardi’s offense, Corey Wootton to provide backup DT/DE versatility and nickel backs Josh Wilson and Chris Owens. The Lions added DE Phillip Hunt early in the offseason and LB Brandon Copeland from the veteran combine in hopes of finding a backup diamond in the rough in the front 7 similar to George Johnson and Daryl Tapp from 2014.