Lions add three key free agents
MAR 13, 2013 10:47a ET
Not only did they get the offensive playmaker they so badly wanted in running back Reggie Bush (Miami), they also added safety Glover Quin (Houston) and defensive end Jason Jones (Seattle).
What’s more, the Lions re-signed arguably their own top unrestricted free agent, cornerback Chris Houston, too.
It was an important day for a team trying to bounce back from a 4-12 season.
“It says they want to be a winner,” said Quin, a versatile and durable defensive back who started every game the last three years. “Last season wasn’t what they wanted after going to the playoffs.
“The teams that want to win, they do things to win. They brought in guys that are proven and guys that can help. Our job is to fit in with the team, do our job to contribute and try to get us over the hump.”
To create the necessary room under the salary cap to help make the free-agent signings possible, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh restructured the final two years on his contract to lower his cap hit for the 2013 season.
Houston, 28, was the one player that the Lions could least-afford to lose from their secondary.
They knew it and they made certain not to let him get away, giving Houston a five-year, $25-million contract.
Houston, who had changed agents only a couple days earlier, wanted to test the free-agent market.
That market, however, became flooded with the recent releases of several high-profile cornerbacks for salary-cap reasons, including Philadelphia’s Nnamdi Asomugha and Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield.
Houston, the only real source of consistency in Detroit’s defensive backfield last season, was believed to be the Lions’ No. 1 target of their 23 unrestricted free agents entering this off-season.
A second-round pick by Atlanta in 2007, Houston was acquired by the Lions three years ago in a trade with the Falcons. He is entering his seventh NFL season and fourth in Detroit.
Quin, 27, who agreed to a five-year deal, will immediately improve the secondary, which has been the Lions’ weak link in recent years.
He is 6-foot, 207 pounds and considered the top cover safety available this year in free agency.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz called Quin “multidimensional.”
“He played corner in college,” Schwartz said. “I remember looking at him when he came out of New Mexico and as physical as he played, the first thing that came to mind is this is a guy who can make the move to safety. Obviously, he has.
“He can play nickel (fifth defensive back). He’s played dime (six defensive backs) in the box. He’s blitzed. He plays in the deep part of the field. He’s asked to cover man-to-man. He’s a very good fit for what we do in addition to being a very good leader.
“The back end of our defense, leadership is very important. He’s a smart player. He’s adjusted to a lot of different things. All that led us to him.”
In Jones, whose deal is for three years and $9.5 million, the Lions added a 6-foot-5, 275-pound defensive end who will help replace Kyle Vanden Bosch (released) and Cliff Avrill (free agent signed with Seattle).
Jones, 26, who played at Southfield (Mich.) Lathrup High and Eastern Michigan, spent last season with the Seattle Seahawks after four years in Tennessee. He was a second-round draft pick in 2008.
Jones’ rookie year with Tennessee was the final season that Schwartz spent as the Titans’ defensive coordinator.
Jones has a home in Southfield, about 15 minutes from the Lions’ headquarters.
“My dad worked for Ford for 30-plus years,” he said. “Now I’m coming home to play for the Ford family. So, it’s kind of ironic, kind of full circle.
“It was always in the back of my mind. I’m going to be honest, I never thought I would get the opportunity.
“It was a no-brainer for me. It’s easy for my parents, it’s easier on me and I just love to be back home for all my family and friends and to play in front of them. I’m excited.”
Reserve defensive tackle Sammie Hill, one of the Lions’ unrestricted free agents, reached a three-year, $11.4-million deal with Tennessee.
... Avril reportedly received $15 million for two years from the Seahawks. He turned down $30 million for three years last summer from Detroit.
... Cornerback Drayton Florence got a one-year contract from Carolina.