Ranking the Detroit Lions' pending unrestricted free agents
Allen Park — The Detroit Lions' season comes to an end on Sunday and the focus will quickly shift to building the 2020 roster. A significant portion of the current roster remains under contract, but more than a dozen players are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents.
Here's our ranking of those pending free agents.
1. Guard Graham Glasgow
Signs have long pointed to the Lions not re-signing Glasgow after the team opted to put him in a rotation with a clearly inferior player. And while he has never been a Pro Bowler, Glasgow is a durable interior lineman with positional versatility and above-average ability as both a run blocker and pass protector. Allowing him walk could be repeating the mistake of letting Larry Warford go a few years back.
2. Defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson
Robinson is what he is — a solid, not spectacular, space-eater who offers little as a pass-rusher from his interior alignments. He has age (24) and durability on his side, but even as a run-stopper, he’s taken a disappointing step back in his fourth year.
3. Wide receiver Danny Amendola
Amendola has been everything the Lions expected when they signed the veteran to a one-year, stopgap deal. At the age of 34, his production has been ahead of his career averages, and he enters the final week of the season 28 yards shy of his career high.
In addition to the stat line, he’s been a solid leader in the locker room, helping push younger talent, namely Kenny Golladay, to new heights.
4. Defensive tackle Mike Daniels
Without question, it was a disastrous trial run for Daniels with the Lions. He spent much of training camp in bubble wrap, only to suffer a foot injury in Week 3 that cost him significant time before an arm injury ended his season. He still has some juice as an interior pass rusher, something the Lions desperately lack, so it might be worth another spin around the block if the price is right.
5. Safety Tavon Wilson
Wilson found himself back in the starting lineup after the Lions traded Quandre Diggs and the veteran has responded with big tackle numbers, likely to top his career high established in 2016, his first with Detroit. He’s the team's best defensive back at playing the run and provides a mature, veteran voice to an otherwise young safety group.
6. Running back J.D. McKissic
With the emergence of Bo Scarbrough as a potential complement to Kerryon Johnson, it might be tough to find McKissic meaningful reps. But as a matchup piece, he offers a creative offensive coordinator options when game-planning. While not his best trait, McKissic can run between the tackles when needed and is the best receiving option out of the backfield on the roster.
7. Offensive lineman Kenny Wiggins
Wiggins did enough this offseason to earn a unique, rotational role at guard. And he has been adequate in that playing time. Ideally not a starter, he still offers value as the first interior lineman off the bench. A season-ending bicep tear shouldn't impact his status for training camp.
8. Safety Miles Killebrew
Killebrew has not been able to carve out a consistent defensive role under coach Matt Patricia, but he’s one of the roster’s best special teams performers, ranking third in the NFL with 14 coverage unit tackles.
9. Quarterback Jeff Driskel
The sample size was small, but Driskel’s mobility was a true asset when he was asked to step in and start in place of an injured Matthew Stafford. Driskel still has age on his side, turning 27 this offseason, and a full year in the scheme would be beneficial if the Lions needed to call upon him again.
10. Punter Sam Martin
After taking a pay cut prior to the start of the season, Martin has performed well. Because of his placement and hang time, returners have struggled against him, averaging 4.2 yards on the boots they’ve brought back. Only Houston's Bryan Anger has been better.
Martin ranks 10th in net average and is near the top of the NFL in both total and percentage of punts inside the 20.
11. Cornerback Rashaan Melvin
After a decent start to the year, opponents started to expose weaknesses in Melvin’s coverage skill set. His long speed and length are his best weapons, but when asked to cover shifty options who are quick out of their breaks, he struggles. He’s probably better suited for a depth role, as opposed to a starter’s workload.
12. Tight end Logan Thomas
The third option in a room with a first-round draft pick and a high-priced free agent addition, Thomas has quietly outperformed the latter with far fewer snaps. He’s also been the better blocker. Plus, he’s given the team more than 200 special teams snaps, easily the most among the roster's offensive players.
13. Offensive lineman Oday Aboushi
The journeyman moved into a featured role and has played well after season-ending injuries to Joe Dahl and Wiggins. He's less versatile, but could be a cheaper depth option than the latter.
14. Long snapper Don Muhlbach
We’re long past the point where Muhlbach is taken for granted. After watching him easily best a draft pick brought in to take his job a few years back, it started to feel like he might play forever. He turns 39 this offseason, but is still one of the best in the business. Might as well sign him up on another one-year deal.
15. Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse
Kearse never got a chance to show the Lions what he could offer after suffering a broken leg in the preseason opener. Assuming the recovery goes smoothly, the 30-year-old receiver will be just two years removed from a 65-catch campaign.
16. Defensive tackle Darius Kilgo
A rotational player who has recorded just 16 tackles in 29 career games, Kilgo hit injured reserve with an undisclosed injury in the early stages of training camp, less than a week after he was activated off the non-football injury list.
Unranked: Defensive tackle Jamie Meder and offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch
A pair of new arrivals, neither were active against Denver last week, their first game with the Lions.