Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor
The first day of free agency in Detroit was full of bluster but short on actual, factual news. Wednesday figures to be different. In fact, it’s already different: as I finished typing this up the news came across that Chris Houston re-signed. Terms are not yet available, but this was the top priority free agent move for the Lions. The team is much better with him than without him.
Detroit native Jason Jones, a defensive linemen most recently with the Seahawks, is at Ford Field as I write this at 8:45 AM CDT. Reggie Bush, who needs no introduction, is also there. They arrived in separate white limousines as Martin Mayhew & the Ford family put on the hard sell. Safety Glover Quin from the Texans is also expected to decide yay or nay on Detroit today.
Jones is the most likely to sign, from what I gather from various sources both first and secondhand. The Eastern Michigan product is a perfect fit for what the Lions need, a strongside defensive end in base formations that slides inside as a nickel rusher. This is the role Rod Marinelli envisioned for Andre Fluellen, and a role Kyle VandenBosch did at times. He had his best year as a rookie under Jim Schwartz in Tennessee, getting 5 sacks and forcing three fumbles in part of a similar rotation to what he would be in Detroit. Because his production has stalled, he will come affordably. Pencil Jason Jones starting at right end, opposite freshly tendered Willie Young on the left, and expect the Lions to use a significant draft resource on a more top shelf pass rusher. It could be the 5th pick with Ezekiel Ansah, it could be the 36th pick with Datone Jones or Tank Carradine if either is there, or they could trade future assets to jump in and pounce in the way they did for Jahvid Best in 2010.
Reggie Bush should also be a Detroit Lion by the end of the day. The Lions sweetened the pot by offering Bush the starting RB job, an opportunity he is not likely to get elsewhere. Bush is an absolute perfect fit for Scott Linehan’s offense, a speed back with open field elusiveness and great receiving skills. Few RBs are as effective as Bush when facing nickel and dime defenses from a single back set; the difference in speed, precision, and explosiveness between Reggie Bush and Joique Bell is like the difference in leaping ability of Brandon Knight and Javale McGee. Because Bush enjoys the wining, dining, and pining process more than most, he might choose to continue his free agent tour to Arizona and perhaps St. Louis, but the very smart money is on Reggie Bush becoming a Detroit Lions starter.
When I asked a Lions staffer about Quin just before free agency started on Tuesday, he told me it was 50/50 he signs with Detroit. Here in Houston it has been widely disseminated that Quin will give the Texans a chance to match any offer, but they are in worse cap trouble both short and long term than the Lions. He will have other suitors and I’m told he will listen to them unless the Lions wow him with an offer.
On the flip side, Louis Delmas is getting a physical in St. Louis right now. If he passes, I expect him to sign there. Jeff Fisher’s Titans were quite high on Delmas coming out of Western Michigan, and the Rams have not been shy about throwing money around. They also have Jake Long in the same boat.
One under-the-radar name to watch is Darrius Heyward-Bey, who was released by the Raiders in a cap move. He’s never come close to meriting his lofty draft status, but that obscures the fact he’s become a very solid all-around second-banana type receiver. He still has the blazing speed but has now learned more of the intricacies of playing wide receiver. If he wants the best possible landing spot, having Matt Stafford throwing to him with Calvin Johnson stripping away over-the-top safety help is as ideal as it gets. Because of his perceived flopdom, he could come cheap and the Lions would be wise to snare him up. It’s essentially buying low on a player another team trained at an exorbitant cost. New England has built their roster with players like this for years.