Examining how PFF’s Top-150 free agent predictions would impact the Lions 2021 offseason

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Erik Schlitt
·5 min read
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Pro Football Focus’ recently put out their Top-150 free agent list of 2021 and it included six predictions that would impact the Detroit Lions’ offseason.

Let’s take a look at what PFF projected and examine each player’s situation in the order PFF has them ranked.

Kenny Golladay, WR (PFF rank No. 4)

Kenny Golladay is the highest rated Lions player on the list, checking in as the No. 4 most attractive free agent in the 2021 class.

“Golladay has the size and athleticism required to be a big target on the outside, along with that contested-catch prowess, but he also possesses enough nuance in his route running to function well in any system,” PFF said. “The NFC North has featured some great receivers in recent seasons, and Golladay is up there with the best of them.”

PFF notes that “Golladay is probably the most likely franchise tag recipient in the NFL at this point” and they predicted that if the Lions don’t sign him to a long-term deal, they will use the tag on him.

If Golladay does make it to the free agency period, PFF expects the New York Giants to make a run at him to the tune of “four years, $85 million ($21.25M APY): $57.5 million total guaranteed, $37.5 million fully guaranteed.”

Marvin Jones, WR (PFF rank No. 48)

“Kenny Golladay is not the only Lions wide receiver headed to free agency,” PFF said, “but the team won’t be as hard-pressed to retain Jones, who will be 31 years old before the 2021 league year begins on March 17.”

PFF projects Jones to leave Detroit and land with the Cleveland Browns “for three years, $27 million ($9M APY): $16.5 million total guaranteed, $12.5 million fully guaranteed at signing.”

Melvin Ingram, EDGE (PFF rank No. 55)

“Ingram racked up three straight seasons with 70 or more total pressures before injury broke that streak,” PFF noted, “and 2020 featured the best PFF pass-rushing grade he has posted since 2017, even if the sacks never materialized.”

PFF projects that Ingram will leave the Chargers looking for a different opportunity and join his former head coach Anthony Lynn in Detroit on a two-year contract, worth “$20M ($10M APY): $16M total guaranteed, $14M fully guaranteed at signing”.

Based on the expected one-gapping 3-3-5 defensive scheme the Lions are expected to deploy, Ingram would fill the JACK linebacker role, where his pass-rushing prowess could be featured.

Danny Amendola, Slot (PFF rank No. 85)

“Despite approaching the age of time itself (35 years old), Danny Amendola has quietly been as productive as ever over the past few seasons,” PFF said. “He hasn’t been as big a part of the offense as he once was, with his last 100-target season coming in New England, but for a team that needs a safe pair of hands or someone who runs a lot of routes from the slot, Amendola can still be a useful member of an offense. He has had six straight seasons with a 65.0-plus PFF receiving grade.”

PFF predicts the Lions to re-sign Amendola on a “one year, $5.5 million: $5 million total guaranteed/fully guaranteed at signing.”

If the Lions tag/re-sign Golladay, bring back Amendola, and elevate Quintez Cephus to Marvin Jones’ role, they would shore up a potential problem at wide receiver fairly quickly.

Romeo Okwara, EDGE (PFF rank No. 96)

PFF is lower on Okwara than some of the other national outlets — The Athletic ranks him the 40th best free agent, while he checks in at 38 in ESPN’s rankings — and it appears their ranking is based on his lack of long-term success.

“After over 1,000 snaps of below-average production as a pass-rusher, Okwara finished like a ball of fire with the No. 3 pass-rush grade among edge defenders since Week 12,” PFF said. “That stretch run was great, and it capped a career year that saw him post an 85.4 pass-rush grade, ninth-best in the league. If he’s truly figured something out, Okwara is worth a shot as a No. 2 pass-rusher, but perspective is needed given the 4.5 years of average play prior to his half-season of dominance. ”

PFF predicts that the Lions will be able to sign “Okwara for three years, $19.5 million ($6.5M APY): $10M total guaranteed, $7 million fully guaranteed at signing”.

By signing Ingram and re-signing Okwara — along with Trey Flowers, Austin Bryant, and Julian Okwara still in the fold — the Lions would have enough talent on the EDGE to get creative with their pass-rushing concepts.

Duron Harmon, S (PFF rank #113)

“Harmon earned consistently strong PFF grades in coverage as a designated free safety during his time in New England,” PFF said. “But after being acquired by the Lions, Harmon was just one of a number of things that didn’t function as well in Motown as it had in Foxborough. He played 1,102 snaps for the Lions as a full-time player, but that playing time yielded career lows in overall PFF overall grade (65.3) and PFF coverage grade (64.4). Harmon has coverage skills but now needs to show he wasn’t just a product of the Patriots’ system.”

Despite Harmon finding most of his success as a single-high free safety and the Lions expected to shift to a split-safety look, PFF still believes that the Lions should re-sign Harmon at “two years, $12 million ($6M APY). $5 million total guaranteed/fully guaranteed”.