Detroit Lions Emerging As Top Suitor For Big Free Agent Cornerback

Yardbarker

The Detroit Lions have gone from being in the wilderness and possibly being longtime laughingstocks to being contenders in the space of just over one calendar year.

Last season, they won 12 regular season games, finished first in the NFC North and came within minutes of advancing to the Super Bowl for the first time. It was the first time since all the way back in 1991 they had reached the NFC Championship Game.

While the immediate future is very bright for them, their defense, particularly their passing defense, needs improvement if they are to take that next step.

There happens to be a successful, experienced and apparently capable cornerback in Xavien Howard available as a free agent. Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report feels Detroit would be one of the best landing spots for him.

“The league’s opinion on a player can change fast, but there’s still some upside for a team signing the soon-to-be 31-year-old,” wrote Ballentine.

“… He missed four games last season and ended the year with a foot injury, but he still looked good when he was on the field. He allowed just one touchdown on 62 targets and a passer rating of 81.3.

“The Baylor product has said he’s willing to take a pay cut to play on a contender this season.”

The Lions are solid up front defensively with Aidan Hutchinson leading the way and the additions of defensive tackle D.J. Reader and defensive end Marcus Davenport. But they could use help in the secondary.

Howard may be getting up there in age, but he made the Pro Bowl four times between 2018 and 2022. He has led the NFL in interceptions twice and in passes defended once, and although he was slowed by injury in 2023, he still managed to post 12 passes defended.

It seems at least somewhat surprising that he’s still available on the free market, given his success and the fact that he’s willing to take less money in order to get a shot at winning a Super Bowl championship.

The Lions’ defensive deficiencies were exposed in January’s NFC title game. They led the San Francisco 49ers 24-7 at halftime, but they then allowed Brandon Aiyuk to convert a 51-yard reception that put the 49ers on Detroit’s four-yard line.

That was the turning point that led to Detroit losing by three points.

Whether Howard ends up with the Detroit Lions or someone else, it is hard to imagine him not having a team once Week 1 tips off.

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