The Detroit Lions started out the first day of free agency a little slower than other teams, but their progress says otherwise.
The Lions kicked off the fun part of the offseason by re-signing Joique Bell to a two-year, $7 million extension, followed by re-signing wide receiver Kevin Ogletree to a one-year deal. Bell’s deal was an important benchmark for this offseason in order to keep the Lions’ record-breaking running back duo of Bell and Reggie Bush together.
The second day of free agency was a little more exciting for Lions fans.
Exactly 24 hours after the free agency period began, the Lions signed wide reciever Golden Tate. The wide receiver and kick returner from the Seattle Seahawks signed a five-year deal worth $31 million with $13.25 million guaranteed.
According to NFLPA, the cap hits from the most recent deals leaves Detroit with approximately $6.9 million more to spend. All-in-all this was a smart move because the Lions signed a long-term deal with a great receiver for a well-negotiated price.
Now let us talk about this so-called puzzle.
Tate, who is 25 years old caught 145 of 151 catchable passes in his four-year career as a Seahawk. Now what does that mean? That means that over the course of Tate’s career, he has only dropped approximately six passes. This is significant since Detroit had the most dropped passes last season with 58. Not only does Tate bring a pair of sure hands to solidify the No. 2 spot of the receiving group, but he also brings the big-play ability to Motown.
Tate’s other visually pleasing statistic is his 14 yards per reception. Fourteen yards per reception roughly translates to “pass me the ball, I can get us a first down.” Aside from statistics, Tate brings the Lions another element they so crucially needed, and that is the winning culture. Tate is going to come into OTA’s reeking of a Super Bowl championship, and the behavior and mentality that comes along with it. The influence he could have on the offense emotionally could be something to complement Calvin Johnson’s humble approach.
Golden Tate was ex-GM and ESPN analyst Bill Polian’s No. 1 wide receiver free agent this offseason.
Skip Bayless shared his thoughts on twitter as well.
I’d rather have Golden Tate than Decker and Detroit signed Tate for less.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) March 13, 2014
The No. 2 receiver hole has been patched. This move had to be done because over the past few years nothing has seemed to go right for that role. With Kris Durham being pushed down the depth chart, and Ryan Broyles and Patrick Edwards even further down, it makes fans a little bit more comfortable moving forward on the offensive side of the ball.
As far as the rest of free agency goes, look for Brandon Pettigrew to re-sign if he does not land with a team like the Jets. Defensively, James Ihedigbo, a familiar face to the Lions’ new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin from the Ravens, was recently in facilities talking about signing soon. Ihedigbo’s 100 tackles and three interceptions last year will be a good free agent signing to add more stability to the backfield.
The draft now is still a little muddy even after the recent moves of free agency. Fans are still excited to see if the Lions want to add another dynamic weapon to Matthew Stafford’s arsenal or to go defense.
Chris Boggus is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.