One of the Cincinnati Bengals free agent safeties was named a potential bold signing for the Detroit Lions, but is the other a better fit?
The Detroit Lions had one of the league’s worst pass defenses last season. There is turnover coming to the cornerback depth chart as a result, but any help in the secondary would be welcome.
Kerby Joseph has some refining of his game to do, but overall he showed he’s a keeper as a rookie. DeShon Elliott was a key player, but he’s a free agent. It’s been all positive signs regarding Tracy Walker’s recovery from his torn Achilles in Week 3 last season, but to say he’s going to be at full strength for Week 1 might be a stretch.
So safety is an under the radar possible need for the Lions, and they have been deemed a possible fit for a notable free agent like Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.
Other Bengals free agent safety tabbed as fit for Detroit Lions
Football Outsiders/ESPN (subscription required) recently took a stab at predicting some bold free agent signings. For the Lions, it was was safety Jessie Bates.
Bates is all but sure to be leaving the Bengals, it’s just a matter of what other team he signs with. He is also in line to cash in nicely with a big multi-year deal, and he’s well-worthy of it. But…
Logan Ulrich of NFL Trade Rumors has done another set of best fits for some free agents.
For Bengals safety Vonn Bell, Ulrich named the Lions as the fit.
Best Fit: Lions
Although the Bengals may be priced out of the market to keep S Jessie Bates, they have a better chance at retaining Bell as he’ll have mid-priced market after a breakout 2022 season. Technically speaking, they should be the best fit for Bell.
But all it takes is one team to change that and there are a couple to keep in mind. Lions DC Aaron Glenn was Bell’s position coach for awhile with the Saints and Detroit could use help on their back end. Bell’s versatility fits well with what Detroit wants to do on defense and they’re viewed as an ascending team, which would ease the sting of leaving Cincinnati.
This is his alignment map for 2021, but Bell is a versatile safety.
Bell set a career high with four interceptions last season, while allowing a 64.0 passer rating in his coverage according to Pro Football Reference. Spotrac has his projected market value at $9.7 million per year on a three-year deal, compared to $14 million a year on a four-year deal for Bates. Bates is two years younger, for what it’s worth.
Bell might even be a little expensive if the Lions want to sign a free agent safety. But he’s definitely a more viable target than his soon-to-be former teammate Bates.