Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett shares his immediate thoughts after the Detroit Lions hired offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions have plenty of decisions to make this offseason, as they prepare for Year 2 of the Matt Patricia era. 

We all have opinions, and what fan doesn’t like to play general manager of their favorite team?

So, we’re giving you — the fans — the power to make the call.

What should GM Bob Quinn and his staff do with the Lions’ pending free agents? 

*Age as of Oct. 1, 2019

QB Matt Cassel

Age: 37.

Stats: Saw action in two games, going 7-for-17 for 59 yards with an INT against the Jets.

Notes: Cassel, a connection from his New England Patriots days, filled the role of veteran backup behind starter Matthew Stafford, but at some point, the Lions need to develop a young option as their No. 2, right?

RB LeGarrette Blount

Age: 32.

Stats: In 16 games, led team in carries with 154 for 418 yards (2.7 per rush) with five TDs.

Notes: Another Patriots connection, Blount had the NFL’s worst yards per carry among 49 players with at least 100 attempts, though he did well in goal-to-go situations. And he isn’t a receiving threat (10 catches, 67 yards). Lions likely need an upgrade to pair with promising second-year runner Kerryon Johnson.

RB Zach Zenner

Age: 28.

Stats: In eight games, ran 55 times for 265 yards (4.8 YPC) with three TDs.

Notes: Filled in admirably in the second half, and deserves a roster spot in the league, but he is dynamic enough as the Lions’ No. 2?

FB Nick Bellore

Age: 30.

Stats: In 14 games, had four catches for 15 yards, and one rush for 0 yards.

Notes: Transitioned from linebacker to fullback. 

TE Luke Willson

Age: 29.

Stats: In 14 games, the Windsor native had 13 catches for a career-low 87 yards.

Notes: Part of a Lions tight end group that failed to replace the polarizing Eric Ebron.

TE Levine Toilolo

Age: 28.

Stats: In 16 games, had 21 catches for 263 yards and one TD from Matt Prater in Week 17.

Notes: He was the most prolific of the Lions’ tight ends. Interpret that as you like.

WR TJ Jones

Age: 27.

Stats: In 15 games, had 19 catches for 190 yards and two TDs.

Notes: Has been a fine depth receiver, but didn’t stand out with his chances after Golden Tate was traded midseason. 

WR Bruce Ellington 

Age: 28.

Stats: In four games, caught 23 passes for 132 yards. Also played three games with Houston (eight receptions for 92 yards).

Notes: Averaged 5.7 yards per catch with Lions, before going on injured reserved with a hamstring injury. 

DE Ziggy Ansah

Age: 30.

Stats: In seven games, collected 11 tackles, seven QB hits and four sacks.

Notes: Playing on the franchise tag, the former No. 5 overall pick in 2013, missed nearly the entire first half of the season with a shoulder injury, and ultimately landed on IR after Week 14. 

Windsor: Lions may have seen last of Ziggy Ansah. Which is a bummer

DE Kerry Hyder (restricted)

Age: 28.

Stats: In seven games, had six tackles, two QB hits and a sack.

Notes: Coming off the Achilles tear that cost him the entire 2017 season, he did not match his 2016 breakout season of 36 tackles and eight sacks.

DE Romeo Okwara (restricted)

Age: 24.

Stats: In 15 games, he had 39 tackles, 14 QB hits and 7½ sacks.

Notes: Signed off waivers before Week 1, Okwara led the Lions in sacks, starting 14 games at end.

DL Ricky Jean Francois

Age: 32.

Stats: In 16 games, collected 30 tackles, two QB hits and two sacks.

Notes: Quickly became one of the leaders in the locker room, despite it being his first year in Detroit, after coming over from New England.

More: Ricky Jean Francois has 2 rules for NFL free agents

LB Eli Harold

Age: 25.

Stats: In 13 games, had 10 tackles, five QB hits and four sacks.

Notes: Acquired in late August from San Francisco for a 7th-round pick in 2020, brought some edge pressure as a stand-up rusher.

CB DeShawn Shead

Age: 30.

Stats: In 12 games, had 17 tackles.

Notes: Was in and out of the lineup, and failed to stand out in a group that was searching for stability across from Darius Slay. 

LS Don Muhlbach

Age: 38.

Stats: Played all 16 games for the ninth straight season.

Notes: Named to the Pro Bowl for the second time in his career.

Also free agents: OT Andrew Donnal, DE Mitchell Loewen, LB Kelvin Sheppard, LB Steve Longa, CB Marcus Cooper and S Charles Washington.

Contact Marlowe Alter: Follow him on Twitter @MarloweAlter.


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