Eight trade candidates that make sense for the Lions
Allen Park — The NFL's trade deadline is fast approaching, arriving Tuesday at 4 p.m., and a flurry of activity has already begun.
On Monday, the Miami Dolphins finalized a deal to send running back Kenyon Drake to the Arizona Cardinals for a sixth-round draft pick that becomes a fifth-rounder if contingencies are met.
Later in the day, the New York Jets shipped former first-round defensive lineman Leonard Williams across town to the New York Giants in exchange for a third-round choice in 2020 and a fifth-rounder in 2021 that becomes a fourth-round selection if Williams signs a contract extension with the Giants.
Following Sunday's win against the Giants, the Detroit Lions appear to be buyers on the market. Armed with an extra fifth-round draft choice picked up last week when the team sent safety Quandre Diggs to the Seattle Seahawks, the Lions have some extra ammo to make a move if the right player becomes available.
Here are several options who could be available who would fill a need for the Lions.
► Running back Rashaad Penny
According to an offseason report, the Lions badly wanted Penny in the draft a year ago and even made a play for him after the Seahawks selected him in the first round. When that didn't work out, the Lions went on to snag Kerryon Johnson in the second round.
Thus far, Penny hasn't hit his stride with the Seahawks and finds himself firmly behind Chris Carson in the team's backfield rotation. With a good size-speed combo, Penny has averaged 5.0 yards per carry during his brief NFL career, but isn't the most elusive runner.
► Running back Damien Williams
A dual-threat out of the backfield, Williams has slowly been phased out in Kansas City in favor of LeSean McCoy. Playing a limited role during his career, Williams has typically been good for 20 catches while offering well-rounded contributions on special teams. A 3.6 yards per carry average for his career is nothing special, but that spiked to 5.1 yards per carry last season.
► Running back Adrian Peterson
If the Lions are simply looking for a rental, Peterson is worth considering. The future Hall of Famer continues to produce at the age of 34. He topped 1,000 yards a season ago and has 383 yards through seven games this year for Washington.
Long known for his work ethic, his presence could provide a boost for Detroit's young running back room the same way Danny Amendola has provided a spark for the receivers.
► Running back Derrick Henry
It doesn't make a lot of sense for Henry to be on the block. He's been highly productive this season and the Titans are only a game behind in the AFC playoff picture. But since it's been floated out there in a couple of spots, Lions general manager Bob Quinn should make the call to counterpart and longtime friend Jon Robinson to check the price tag.
Henry, while not the most versatile backfield option, would give the Lions a physical north-south runner who has shown the ability to punish would-be tacklers.
► Running back Devonta Freeman
Yeah, there's a clear theme here, given Detroit's most obvious roster hole is at running back.
Freeman, one of the NFL's most-productive dual-threats a couple years back, has fallen on hard times the past two seasons. Injuries limited him to two games a year ago and he's only mustered 3.4 yards per carry this year for the struggling Falcons.
Where Freeman continues to succeed is as a pass-catcher; he has 35 grabs through seven games. J.D. McKissic is currently Detroit's best receiver out of the backfield, but there's a significant drop-off at the position when he's not on the field.
► Linebacker Shaq Barrett
Working on a cheap, one-year deal with the Bucs, Barrett has been a highly productive pass-rusher, recording 10.0 sacks and four forced fumbles through seven games. His frantic pace has slowed in recent weeks due to some nagging injuries, but plugged him into a rotation role with the Lions could provide a needed spark off the edge for the team's anemic pass rush.
► Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan
Washington has reportedly received interest from multiple teams for Kerrigan, a nine-year veteran who has spent his entire career with the franchise. After averaging 12.0 sacks the past five years, the production has been way down to start the year. He's only dropped the opposing quarterback twice through the first eight games, but a track record is there and he's still getting a decent amount of pressure on the pocket.
The contract would be the biggest issue here. Unless you get Washington to eat some of the money this season, you're looking at $5-6 million for the remainder of 2019. Kerrigan remains under contract next year, at $11.75 million, but none of that is guaranteed.
► Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue
This is a swing-for-the-fences kind of move, similar to what the Giants just negotiated for Williams.
Ngakoue is a durable, productive edge rusher clearly unhappy with his situation in Jacksonville. He's not going to come cheap, with the compensation package likely starting at a Day 2 draft pick, but that's worth it if you can also come to an agreement on a long-term extension.
That might be a tricky conversation for the Lions, who just committed $90 million to Trey Flowers over five years, but a long-term pairing with Ngakoue could develop into one of the league's better edge tandems.