Detroit Lions free agency grades: Hard not to love these moves

Carlos Monarrez
Detroit Free Press
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Free Press sports writer Carlos Monarrez grades each of the Detroit Lions’ free-agents additions Monday, contingent on the reported deal agreements for Trey Flowers, Jesse James and Justin Coleman.

Trey Flowers, defensive end

He’s never had a double-digit sack season and he’s not a household name, but Flowers is considered one of this year’s top free agents and he’s expected to be a great piece and pivotal player in Matt Patricia’s defense. He’s a durable, versatile, hard-worker known for pressuring the quarterback if not always getting to him and doing the little things that contribute to the defense’s success. He turns 26 in August, which means the Lions are getting him with plenty of time left in his prime. You’ve also got to love his nickname: The Quiet Storm. Grade: A.

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Oct 5, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA;New England Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers (98)  during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Coleman, cornerback

Coleman is even more of an under-the-radar guy than Flowers. Maybe that’s why Matthew Stafford didn’t see him while throwing an interception to Coleman that sealed Seattle’s win over the Lions in October. It remains to be seen if he plays inside or outside, but Coleman has shown the past two seasons he’s the kind of playmaker the Lions desperately need. He has three interceptions, with two picks sixes, the past two years, two fumble recoveries last year, including a scoop-and-score, and the ability to blitz. But he doesn’t come cheap with a reported average salary of $9 million. Grade: B.

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Justin Coleman (28) returns a fumble for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field.

Jesse James, tight end

He’s the best of a weak tight-end class, but at just 24 years old he has plenty of upside. At 6 feet 7, he could be a big target for Stafford, especially in the red zone. And he’s also a good blocker. James was a backup to Vance McDonald in Pittsburgh, but the Lions did the right thing signing James when they could. They learned their lesson last year when they whiffed on swinging a trade for Rob Gronkowski. James probably won’t be a star, but he’s a capable player at a demanding position that won’t require the Lions to wait on a draft pick to develop. Grade: B-minus.

Danny Amendola, receiver

This feels like a stop-gap move, and you have to look at it in the context of the Lions having to fill this void because they willingly parted with a much better player in Golden Tate. Amendola is capable, but it’s hard to imagine the Lions getting a lot of a player who turns 34 in November. This move reminds me a little of the signing of LeGarrette Blount, who was a trusted veteran expected to set a standard and evangelize Patricia’s style but who ultimately just had too much mileage to be very effective in a key, playmaking position. Grade: C-plus.

Contact Carlos Monarrez at or follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.

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