The Detroit Lions finished 9-7 for the second straight year, missing the playoffs in 2017. A Week 15 loss at Cincinnati ruined the team’s postseason chances and likely was the final straw in costing head coach Jim Caldwell his job. The team fired Caldwell after four seasons.
Matt Patricia has been named as his replacement after serving as the defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots. Defense is where the Lions need the most help. Detroit finished seventh in offensive scoring last year (25.6 ppg), but were 21st in points allowed (23.5 ppg).
The Lions have a decent amount of money to spend in free agency, but the priority will be on defense. That doesn’t mean some nice complementary pieces cannot be added on offense to help Matthew Stafford. The offensive line is pretty set, outside of center, but more depth at the skill positions would be nice.
Three additions we want to see for fantasy
Early-round running back: Since 2004, the Lions have had two 1,000-yard rushers, with Reggie Bush being the last in 2013. Ameer Abdullah pretty clearly isn’t the answer. Many would like to see former Michigan State Spartan Le’Veon Bell return to Michigan in free agency, but the more likely option will be to address the position in the draft. With the 20th pick in Round 1 it is unlikely that Saquon Barkley will fall to them, but there are several options in the first 75 picks that could be the early-down workhorse the Lions covet.
Trey Burton, TE: Eric Ebron had a few nice games down the stretch of 2017, but most of his tenure in Detroit has been disappointing and he is entering the final year on his contract. Burton has gotten better in each of his three seasons in Philadelphia. He displayed the ability to make plays in the slot (11 receptions) and run deep routes (two catches of 20-plus yards) in limited action last season. He only had 30 targets, but managed 23 receptions for 248 yards and five touchdowns.
Donte Moncrief, WR: After a promising start to his pro career, Moncrief has fallen off the past two years mostly due to injuries to both himself and Andrew Luck. He’s still just 24 years old though. Moncrief is likely going to be forced to sign a one-year, “prove it”-type deal and the Lions are currently a better spot to be than Indianapolis is for a wide receiver. He’s been a nice asset in the red zone. 11 of his 15 TDs over the past three years have come inside the 11-yard line.