Lions sign veteran RB LeGarrette Blount

Also, bring back Zach Zenner

The Detroit Lions took a huge step to boosting their anemic run game with the signing of free agent running back LeGarrette Blount. The team announced the deal after 10 p.m. on Friday.

It’s a one-year deal worth $4.5 million, per Ian Rapoport, NFL Network insider.

Blount is fresh off a Super Bowl win with the Philadelphia Eagles last month. It was his third Super Bowl championship. He also won two with the New England Patriots (another connection to GM Bob Quinn).

The Lions had the worst run game in the NFL in 2017, averaging 3.4 yards per carry.

Blount  appeared in all 16 games (11 starts) for the Eagles in 2017 and finished with 173 carries for 766 yards and two touchdowns, as well as eight receptions for 50 yards and one touchdown.

The 31-year-old running back had a career year in 2016 with the Patriots with 1,161 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions

Blount signed with the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2010 out of the University of Oregon. He spent three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2010-12. Entering his ninth NFL season, his career totals include 116 games (54 starts), 1,341 carries for 5,888 yards and 51 touchdowns, as well as 54 receptions for 387 yards and two touchdowns. In 11 postseason games (three starts), he has totaled 140 carries for 600 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Also on Friday, the Lions re-signed Zach Zenner to a one-year deal.

Reports were that free agent running backs DeMarco Murray, Jonathan Stewart (who signed with the Giants), Frank Gore and Miles Davis talked also with the Lions.


It’s all about opportunity for Lions free agent LBs Christian Jones, Devon Kennard

Matt Patricia a big draw for the linebackers

If you’re looking for insight into the Lions defense under coach Matt Patricia, the two newest linebackers don’t seem to have a clue.

Free agent linebackers Christian Jones and Devon Kennard, who signed with the Lions, met the Detroit media via a conference call on Thursday morning.

Both said they weren’t sure exactly what the defense would look like. They also agreed that they aren’t sure how their roles will be defined. Doesn’t seem to matter to them.

The underlying sentiment seemed to be that they signed with Detroit for the opportunity to play with a team that is coached by a defensive wizard.

“As far as Matt Patricia and the defense, I watch a lot of film and I’ve really admired what he’s done on the defensive side of the ball for a long time so I’m definitely familiar with him and just the scheme that he and the success he’s had with New England for so long,’’ Kennard said.


Both seem excited to get to work and apparently memorized the same list of football cliches.

“I thought it’d be a great opportunity. I knew I’d be joining a team that already has things in place. Offensively we all know what they can do,’’ Jones said on the call. “Defensively they have a good core group here that I can come in and help make a little better. It’s just an exciting time for me and I’m glad to be up here and there’s going to be a lot of opportunity.’’

That’s the key word.

The Lions were short on linebackers after not re-signing Tahir Whitehead and Paul Worrilow who played a ton last season. So these two should get plenty of playing time.

“Obviously the interest of the team and then also opportunity. You want opportunity to play and show what you’re capable of doing and be in a good situation on a team that has some potential. You look at all of that. It’s a combination of everything,’’ Kennard said.

That said, they’re both hoping for the opportunity (there’s that word again) to blitz often.

“Yes that would be great, it’s a  passing league the more pressure you can get on these quarterbacks the better. We’ve got a lot of guys on the team that can get after the quarterback,’’ Jones said. “It should be fun, we’re all working hard trying to get ready for this upcoming season, it should be exciting.’’

Their answers were not scripted but it kind of sounded like that.

“I love the opportunity to put pressure on the quarterback. I think the greatest play in football is a sack cause fumble, in my opinion. Any opportunity to help my team in that way is something I look forward to doing, we’ll see how much if at all I’ll be doing that this season,’’ Kennard said.

Jones, 27, spent the last four seasons with the Chicago Bears. He finished the 2017 season with a career-high 84 total tackles (57 solo), in addition to two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He has appeared in 63 games with 31 starts. He was signed by the Bears in 2014 as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Florida State.

Kennard, 26, was drafted in 2014 in the fifth round by the New York Giants and spent four seasons with them, playing in 52 games with 35 starts. In the 2017 season he finished with 41 total tackles (24 solo), four sacks, two pass defenses and one fumble recovery.

Kennard’s dad, Derek Kennard, played with the Cardinals, Saints and Cowboys. Devon was a youngster so doesn’t remember too much. He does recall racing against Emmitt Smith when he was 4.

“He let me win, so that was cool,” Kennard said.

Three reasons Ndamukong Suh could return to Lions and three why he won’t

A free agent, Suh will be looking for big money

Ndamukong Suh is officially a free agent after he was released by the Miami Dolphins on Wednesday. It appears to be a salary cap move.

Suh, the second overall NFL draft pick in 2010 by the Lions, spent five seasons in Detroit. He was no doubt a factor on the field, but he was a conundrum off the field and in the locker room where he never seemed to be a good fit.

The 31-year-old defensive tackle had his own way, his own logo and even in Jim Caldwell’s first year as Lions head coach, Suh skipped the spring workouts to work on his own.

Suh tried a group hug with the Lions media in his last season, but he was a tough guy to cover. (By the way, he’s only NFL player to block me on Twitter and I see that as a badge of honor.)

Mike Freeman, NFL columnist for Bleacher Report, has an interesting take that he shared on Twitter: “Interest in Suh isn’t extensive because he wants a sh—load of money. That’s a technical term. Sh—load. And teams have finally learned Suh isn’t worth a lot of money because he takes too many plays off.”

Several reports are listing the Lions as one possible option for Suh.

Three reasons Suh could return to Lions:

1.. They need help on the defensive line. Badly. Don’t know what Matt Patricia thinks, but he’s a defensive guy and it would seem he’d at least be intrigued. Suh is durable. He’s missed just two games in eight seasons and that was due to a suspension while in Detroit.

2. Suh will not be cheap, but more reasonable than when he left for the Dolphins in 2015.

3. New coach and different GM could spell a clean slate.

Three reasons he won’t return to Detroit:

1. It’s not all about sacks but his best sack production was as a rookie in 2010 when he had 10. In the past two seasons in Miami he’s had a combined 9.5.

2. He is not a savior. The Dolphins went to the playoffs in just one of his three seasons there. It wasn’t all his fault, of course. Did they get their money’s worth? The Lions went to the playoffs in two of his five seasons.

3. His reputation may not be attractive to GM Bob Quinn and Patricia. Suh brings so many intangibles — not all good. Tough to sort out. Been there, done that. Moved on three years ago, no reason to circle back.


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.


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



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

Pass defense ranked 6th in 2017 season


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.


— 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.