Can the Lions slow the Vikings' momentum on Thanksgiving? John Niyo and Justin Rogers discuss the game, the Lions' playoff hopes and even explore biggest offseason needs. The Detroit News
Allen Park — It’s not every day you add a future Hall of Famer to the roster, but that’s exactly what the Detroit Lions did Wednesday, claiming defensive end Dwight Freeney off waivers.
To clear room on the roster, the Lions waived wide receiver Jace Billingsley.
The move reconnects the seven-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro sack artist with former coach Jim Caldwell. The two spent 10 seasons together in Indianapolis — from Freeney’s rookie season in 2002 through the coach’s final year with the franchise, 2011.
“Jim is a great guy,” Freeney said in January, during Super Bowl media day. “He’s calm, cool and collected. He knows how to motivate a team. He understands the team very well and it’s no surprise to me how he turned that Detroit franchise around. It’s only a matter of time with Jim.”
The connection goes back even further. When Caldwell coached at Wake Forest, he tried recruiting Freeney.
“Jim sat on my couch in high school,” Freeney said. “He was trying to recruit me out of high school to go to Wake Forest and told me I could play both ways. I could play offense and defense. I gave him a hard time when I was with the Colts. I said, ‘I’m still waiting to play both ways.’ ”
But the Lions don’t need a gadget player on offense, they already have that in Jamal Agnew. What the team needs is a pass rusher. The team currently ranks tied for 20th in the NFL with 21 sacks.
Freeney, 37, might not have a lot left in his tank, but in a brief, four-game stint with the Seahawks this season, he showed he still had a knack for getting to the quarterback, recording three sacks. With a renowned spin move, he’s racked up 125.5 sacks during his career, good for 17th on the all-time list.