LINKEDIN 2 COMMENTMORE

The Lions won’t know until the season starts if their free-agent additions will pay dividends.

Count ESPN among those who think they will.

Last week, John Clayton listed the Lions among five teams who helped themselves the most in free agency. On Monday, ESPN listed new offensive tackle Rick Wagner as one of eight players who “chose wisely” in free agency (pay site).

Wagner, 27, signed with the Lions after four seasons in Baltimore. He’s joined on the Lions’ revamped offensive line by guard T.J. Lang, formerly of the Packers.

“Wagner was the top offensive tackle on the market, and the Lions made the right move here to land the former Raven,” ESPN’s Matt Bowen wrote. “Detroit is now in a spot to roll out a new starting combo on the right side of the offensive line after adding Wagner and guard T.J. Lang in free agency.

“Keeping quarterback Matthew Stafford upright should always be a top priority for the Lions and their quick West Coast passing game. But we also have to look at how this move upgrades Detroit’s dreadful running game. Last season, the Lions averaged only 81.9 rushing yards per game (30th in the NFL) and just 3.74 yards per carry (27th). With both Wagner and Lang now in the mix, it’s time for Detroit to start moving people off the ball.”

And, while the Lions lured Lang from the NFC North rival Packers, Green Bay also made waves with the signing of tight end Martellus Bennett, who also landed on ESPN’s list.