Lions release TE Eric Ebron

TE Darren Fells also gone

Tight end Eric Ebron is no longer with the Lions. The team announced they had released him at 3:10 p.m. today (Wednesday).

Since they apparently couldn’t find a trade partner, they released him an hour before his $8.25 million salary would have been guaranteed. Rumors have been flying that Ebron could be gone, so this is not a huge surprise.

Ebron has a huge personality and questionable hands.

Now the Lions are in the market for two tight ends. Darren Fells has reportedly agreed to a three-year $12 million deal with the Cleveland Browns.

That leaves two tight ends on the roster — Michael Roberts and Hakeem Valles.

Roberts, a fourth-round pick in 2017, had four catches for 46 yards and zero touchdowns in 15 games as a rookie. Roberts showed promise. So we will see. Valles played in one game for the Lions in 2017 and 11 games for the Cardinals in 2016. He hasn’t registered a catch in the NFL.

In 2017 Ebron had 53 catches for 574 yards and four touchdowns. Not a horrible year, but apparently not good enough to keep him around for $8 million-plus.

PHOTO COURTESY OF DETROIT LIONS

Ebron, the 10th overall draft pick in 2014, had 186 catches for 2,070 yards and 11 touchdowns in four seasons with the Lions.

 

 

Advertisements

Lions sign free agent DB DeShawn Shead; also re-sign CB Nevin Lawson

Pass defense ranked 6th in 2017 season

UPDATED WITH SHEAD SIGNING

The Lions secondary is starting to take shape.

Of course, free agency is just getting started and the draft is six weeks away.

The team announced late Wednesday they have signed defensive back DeShawn Shead. It’s believed to be a one-year, $3.5 million deal along with incentives.

Versatility is a plus for the 28-year-old defensive back who played safety and cornerback in Seattle where he’s spent six seasons. He’s coming off a torn ACL and only played two games in 2017. He was a starter in 2016.

Also, the Lions re-signed Nevin Lawson Wednesday. The cornerback is entering his fifth season in Detroit after he was drafted in the fourth round in 2014.

He started 15 games in 2017 and finished with 43 total tackles (37 solo), four pass defenses, one forced fumble and his first-career fumble recovery, which he returned for a 44-yard touchdown against Cleveland.

Other cornerbacks currently on the roster include Darius Slay, Teez Tabor and Jamal Agnew.

Safeties include Glover Quin, Tavon Wilson (who was re-signed on Tuesday) and Miles Killebrew.

Quandre Diggs, who started 2017 at nickel and finished playing safety, will also return. It’s too early to know what position he will play under new defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni.

Tabor, a second-round pick a year ago, and Agnew, who was taken in the fifth round, will be taking the step from rookie to second-year player. Generally that’s where much improvement is seen.

The Lions passing defense was ranked sixth in the NFL in 2017, allowing an average of 243.2 passing yards per game.

Detroit Lions to agree to deals with 2 linebackers; other free agency updates

Seahawks CB DeShawn Shead visiting today

The Lions needed linebackers and it appears they will officially sign free agents Christian Jones and Devon Kennard when NFL free agency opens at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

Peter Schrager of FOX Sports reports the Lions have agreed to a three-year deal worth $18.75 millions with Kennard who was a fifth-round pick of the Giants in 2014. He started 11 games for the Giants in 2017 when he had 41 tackles, four sacks and two pass defenses. Kennard played in 52 games in the past four seasons.

Jones, who can play inside or outside, will sign a two-year deal with Detroit, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Jones missed just one game since 2014 when he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Bears. He started 11 games in 2017 and played special teams. He finished 2017 with 90 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.

Linebacker was a huge position of need with three Lions linebackers set for free agency — Tahir Whitehead, Paul Worrilow and Nick Bellore.

Also:

— Cornerback DeShawn Shead is visiting the Lions today (Tuesday) according to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport. He will visit the 49ers on Wednesday. He has spent the last six seasons with the Seahawks. After playing in 47 games in three seasons (2014-16) he played in just two in 2017 after a long recovery from ACL surgery.

— Haloti Ngata appears headed to the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, according to Schefter. Ngata, 34, spent the last three seasons in Detroit. He played in just five games in 2017 due to injury.

— Veteran running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeMarco Murray visited the Lions this week according to multiple reports. Neither one would likely be the savior of the Lions running game which was the worst in the NFL in 2017 with an average of 76.3 yards per game. However, they could provide help. Expect the Lions to draft a running back in the early rounds. They are not going anywhere in 2018 without a vastly improved running game.

— The Lions announced on Tuesday morning that they re-signed safety Tavon Wilson. Rapoport reported it’s two years for $7 million. He had nine starts in 2017. With the new regime the former Patriot obviously figures into the plan.

Lions re-sign S Tavon Wilson; keep open mind on defense as free agency starts

Expect new looks on Matt Patricia’s defense

With free agency “officially” starting on Wednesday at 4 p.m., it could get interesting for the Detroit Lions.

Same general manager in Bob Quinn, but a mostly new coaching staff with new head guy Matt Patricia.

Already some fan angst appeared when the Lions announced Tuesday morning they’ve re-signed safety Tavon Wilson. NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported it’s two years for $7 million. Not exactly breaking the bank.

Already fans on my Twitter feed not happy. They want “some new faces” on defense not the same old, same old. They want Miles Killebrew to have a chance to develop.

Well, guess what? With free agency and the six draft picks, there will be new faces on defense.

Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions

Keep an open mind when it comes to defense under Patricia and new coordinator Paul Pasqualoni. While some pieces are in place, expect competition at others.

Wilson is a good signing. He started nine games in 2017. Late in the season Quandre Diggs was moved from nickel to safety. Patricia is familiar with him because Wilson was originally drafted by the Patriots. But that is not the reason, Patricia wants him on the roster. He wants Wilson because he thinks he can contribute to the defense.

Killebrew will most likely get a chance to prove himself after a season that started hot last year but didn’t end that way for Killebrew.

Who will start at safety this year? Maybe Wilson, maybe Diggs, maybe someone else not on the roster yet. Killebrew a long-shot. Wilson certainly capable to start but if not provides depth and the wisest NFL people will say that you can never have too many defensive backs. They get hurt.
Don’t get me started on the 4-3 or 3-4 front debate.

Hopefully Patricia quashed all of that talk, when he told reporters at the NFL Drafting Combine that defensive fronts are 90 percent sub packages. Patricia called the 3-4/4-3 issue “irrelevant.”

OK, let’s move on.

 

Detroit Lions designate Ziggy Ansah as franchise player

Can negotiate long-term deal until July 16

In a move that was expected, the Detroit Lions announced Tuesday that they have designated defensive end Ziggy Ansah as their franchise player.

Ansah finished 2017 with a dozen sacks  44 total tackles (39 solo), one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Six of those sacks occurred in the final two games. It was an improvement from the 2016 season when he had two sacks but not quite enough to match his best year when he had 14.5 sacks in 2015.

His 44 career sacks rank fifth all-time in Lions history.

Ansah, 28, was the Lions first-round draft pick (fifth overall) in 2013. It was seen as a risky pick. Ansah’s size and athleticism fit a first-round profile, but he didn’t play football until in college at Brigham Young. He was raw but proved to be a quick learner.

He will be paid $17.5 million for 2018 once he signs his tender, according to Ian Rapoport, NFL Network Insider. Ansah’s agent and the Lions have until July 16 to work out a longer deal.

Ansah’s career totals also include 73 games (71 starts), 207 total tackles (155 solo), 10 forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

Lions sign QM Bob Quinn to extension: Five reasons it’s a good move

Quinn has been solid in the draft, free agency

Bob Quinn has earned a contract extension in his first two years as general manager of the Detroit Lions. The team announced the deal today without, of course, sharing many details.

The extension matches the length of the contract of new coach Matt Patricia who was signed this week. At Patricia’s introductory press conference, team president Rod Wood said Patricia’s deal was “long term” but was not specific about the number of years.

With Quinn’s extension the Lions will have organizational stability for the next several years.

Five reasons why it was a good idea to give Quinn an extension:

1. He’s earned it with two solid drafts in his first stint as general manager of an NFL team. His first-round picks — linebacker Jarrad Davis and left tackle Taylor Decker — have proven themselves worthy. Through his drafts the Lions have found starters and depth that had been missing for years. Three of the 2016 draft picks — Decker, Graham Glasgow and Joe Dahl — could be starters on the offensive line in the fall. Defensive end Anthony Zettel was a huge find as a sixth-round pick. Many of the first- and second-year players (Kenny Golladay, Teez Tabor, Jamal Agnew, among others) are just scratching the surface.

2. Quinn has added depth through free agency and nabbed a few notables such as wide receiver Marvin Jones, right guard T.J. Lang, right tackle Rick Wagner and defensive tackle Akeem Spence.

3. Continuity is key to a successful NFL franchise.  That was echoed in team president Rod Wood’s statement: “It is also important for our entire organization to ensure stability as we move forward with Matt as our new head coach working in partnership with Bob. Moreover, I greatly enjoy my relationship and partnership with Bob. We both look forward to a bright future for the Detroit Lions.”

4. Quinn has done a respectable job so far but he needs more time to see this through. Quinn said: “My goals and vision remain unchanged and I will continue to work diligently at improving this team and every facet of the football operation. Coach Patricia and I will always work in close concert on any and all football-related matters. That process is underway as our coaching and player personnel staffs are collectively preparing for the roster building phase of the off-season.”

5. Displaying hard work and passion, Quinn has earned the extension. The Lions are not where they want to be yet, but they appear to be headed in the right direction.

Five reasons the Lions hired Matt Patricia

Process explained at introductory press conference

ALLEN PARK — When the Lions hired Matt Patricia as the new head coach, it had to be a good match both ways.

It certainly helps that Lions general manager Bob Quinn and Patricia worked together for a dozen years with the New England Patriots.

“My meeting with Bob and Rod (Wood) I felt very comfortable, I felt immediately when I walked in the room things just clicked on the same level,’’ Patricia said at his introductory press conference on Wednesday.

“Ideas, philosophies, the way you wanted an organization or a football team to be run — the mentality behind it was similar. I know Bob’s and my working relationship has been outstanding … My comfort level with Bob was huge in all of this,’’ Patricia added.

That comfort level was a huge factor, but it was not the only reason the decision was made. Five reasons Patricia was hired the Lions:

1. Quinn said they set out to find a head coach who had five characteristics: Integrity, leadership, intellect, work ethic and innovativeness. Patricia hit the mark with all five. Quinn characterized it as a “seamless” interview. In fact, Quinn and team president interviewed him twice in Massachusetts — once prior to the playoffs and once during the Super Bowl bye week. Patricia was one of five candidates they interviewed.

2. Patricia and Quinn do not want to recreate the “Patriot Way” in Detroit. “I think it’s hard to categorize ‘a way’ in general. Bob and I have a lot of experience and history together. We believe in a lot of the same things as far as when you look at and evaluate players, how a team should be run, how it should be coached,’’ Patricia said. “There’s a great background we both share. And a common ground as how we both envision a team being run. … When you’ve had success you can start to call it the ‘Lions way.”’

3. Quinn said the interviews validated what he thought of Patricia. “Overall Matt’s answers really  were just aligned with what I believe in and what I really believe will take us to that next level,’’ Quinn said. “Going through the interview process with other candidates, I didn’t know all of those guys personally, I knew a few of them. The 12 years we worked together — a lot of long hours, long drives to look at players, long conversations late at night about players, how would you do this, how did this guy play, can this guy fit in this scheme. … The interview process was really seamless. It was like we were back in his office talking football again.’’

4. Quinn said he didn’t have to sell Patricia on coming to Detroit for his first head coaching job. Quinn said the organization sells itself. “It starts with Mrs. Ford and her family, the support they give us is incredible. When we talk about going into a situation and trying to build a team and trying to build the organization back to where we want it, those are the easy selling points. I didn’t have to sell Matt on much,’’ Quinn said.

5. Their goal is the same. “Matt and I want to win now but we’re going to win the right way. We’re going to build from what we have currently and hopefully improve the roster every year,  every day, every week, every draft, every free agent period til we get where we want to be,’’ Quinn said. “We’re not putting timelines or timetables on when we’re going to win what, but we have great aspirations of what we want to do with this organization.’’