Sylvester Williams Jersey

The 2018-2019 NFL season is officially in the rearview mirror. The Miami Dolphins officially have a new head coach. It is officially the offseason. There are a lot of decisions that have to be made over the next few months by new head honcho Brian Flores and the recently promoted Chris Grier. Among those decisions includes the question: what should the team do with its own soon-to-be free agents?

Our beloved Managing Editor Kevin Nogle and I have been working our way through the list of pending free agents for Miami, taking a closer look at each player and giving you the chance to vote on whether the Dolphins should retain the player, tag them, or let them walk. So far, we have yet to find a player who should be franchise tagged, and today’s addition to the list will be no different. Today, we bring you defensive tackle Sylvester Williams.

Williams started out the 2018 season as a member of the Detroit Lions, where he played in six games and started four. Over that span, he accumulated six total tackles. After being released midway through the season, Williams joined the Dolphins to help fill the void of injured youngster Vincent Taylor. Over the course of eight games, Williams recorded eight total tackles while rotating with Davon Godchaux and Akeem Spence in the trenches.

After four productive seasons as a key member of a fearsome defense on the Denver Broncos and a solid year with the Tennessee Titans, Williams was much more of a role player this past year than a reliable starter. One could argue that his track record is reason enough for a team to pay him as a valuable veteran that can plug a whole on the d-line, but players entering their age 30 campaign usually don’t get better out of nowhere.

Devon Kennard Jersey

Allen Park — In his first year with the Detroit Lions, Devon Kennard had his best professional season.

Looking to make another jump in his production, he’s spent the offseason studying some of the best players at his position, looking to add a few tricks to his repertoire.

Kennard gathered tape on a number of top edge rushers, including Demarcus Lawrence, Khalil Mack, Frank Clark and Von Miller in his search for what makes each of those players great at what they do.

“The offseason is a unique time of year where I don’t have to worry about a game plan, or what’s (an opponent’s) favorite play, or how are they going to block you,” Kennard said. “It’s a time where you can take a step back and analyze, not only your game, but other players’ games that you respect and like. I kind of do that every offseason, but having a further understanding of how I’m used (in Detroit’s scheme) and what’s expected of me moving forward, I was able to kind of pinpoint guys that, pass rush-wise, I like. It was fun to watch.

“There’s some great pass rushers who did some good things last year, and seeing what they did and how they fit with what I do and how I can add it to my game for this year coming up is something I’m excited about.”

One of the players Kennard has studied more than most the past two years has been Trey Flowers. Given the Lions defense shares a foundation with the scheme run in New England, Kennard is plenty familiar with his new teammate and he’s eager to pick his brain.

“As soon as we signed him, I thought it was a great signing,” Kennard said. “I really respect him game, what he’s done, his versatility and how he impacts the game in a multitude of ways. I think it’s great. I’m excited getting a chance to meet him, be around him and all that and just pushing forward from here.”

Signed to a three-year deal as a free agent last offseason, Kennard appeared in 15 games, playing more than 90 percent of the defensive snaps in those contests. Being primarily used as an edge defender, he finished with a career-high seven sacks.

Christian Jones Jersey

Christian Jones had a decent season as a solid fantasy starter. He was the number #65 ranked LB and the #408 ranked player overall. Even though he missed a few games he played enough so that his overall fantasy rank was better than what it was based on average fantasy points (#95 LB). He trended up as the season went on. In his first 5 games he averaged 3.2 FPs. He improved to 3.8 in the next 5 games. In his final stretch of games he improved to 4.3 per game. His fantasy production is stable and he is not as volatile as most players based on a below average standard deviation. Our projected ceiling for Jones when he ‘goes off’ is 6 fantasy points (his average is 3.8FPs). Christian Jones (2019 Season Projection: 51 Solo, 25 Ast, 1.2 Sacks, 0.8 Fumrec, 3.5 PDs) is projected to take a significant step downward in the upcoming fantasy season. His rank based on total projected fantasy points has him as the #77 player at his position.

He was the #65 ranked fantasy LB based on total fantasy points. He averaged 3.8 FP per game (#95 ranked based on average). He is trending down based on lower per game fantasy ranking from 2017 to 2018.

Jones tallied 69 tackles, one sack, three pass breakups and one forced fumble over 16 games for the Lions in 2018.

Coming over from Chicago fresh off a 90-tackle season, Jones seemed to be a bad fit in Detroit over the first half of the season. However, the midseason acquisition of defensive tackle Damon Harrison seemed to change things for Jones, as he produced just 19 tackles in six games prior to Harrison coming to town compared to 50 in 10 games with Harrison around. With both Jones and Harrison under contract in 2019, next year it’s reasonable to expect Jones to pick up where he left off — on pace for an 80-tackle season.

Jones recorded six tackles (five solo) and a sack across 59 defensive snaps in Sunday’s loss to the 49ers.

After being limited to only 27 defensive snaps in the season-opener, Jones saw a major uptick in action Sunday. The linebacker played 92 percent of the Lions’ defensive snaps as a starter and tied Jarrad Davis for the lead in tackles. After a strong outing on an otherwise disappointing day, Jones has a good chance of seeing a similar workload Sunday night against the Patriots.

Ricky Jean Francois Jersey

When an NFL player tries to quote Mahatma Gandhi, you know things are getting deep.

You know things are about to get real. You know the frustration has boiled over. Mostly, you know you’re in the Detroit Lions locker room.

Ricky Jean Francois, the veteran defensive tackle and the oracle of Allen Park, had clearly had enough Sunday after the Lions’ latest disappointing loss, a 27-9 defeat that dropped the team to 5-10.

“I think I heard Gandhi say this in a book I read: ‘The only way you can change a culture is you’ve got to change the people within in.’

“You want to change the culture, change the people. I’m not finger-pointing on who needs to change or who needs to go somewhere. But if you want a different regime, you want a different buy-in or something like that, the only way you get a different culture is you change the people that sit in it.”

It’s understandable. The Lions had just lost their second straight game and their fourth in five games. It was their sixth double-digit loss this season.

A vet like Jean Francois doesn’t survive in the NFL by being OK with losing. He has to hate it. And he does. But he’s not sure how many of his teammates hate it as much as he does.

“Excuse my French,” he said, “but I’ll just be damned if I go to work every week, prepare myself, look at film, live inside of a training facility, do everything that this coach asks me to to come out here and keep explaining this. It bothers me. If it don’t bother you, you don’t love football. It bothers me.

“It just bothers me to know that you’ve got to go to practice with the game plan that’s in and just execute it. Be the bigger man. Know that the dude across from you knows what you’re going to do and just beat him.”

There was a somber feeling throughout Ford Field on Sunday. There were plenty of empty seats. The crowd was quiet and probably at its loudest when it cheered the announcement that Mass Cassel had taken over for Matthew Stafford late in the fourth quarter.

The locker room was equally as somber. No one had answers. Darius Slay’s voice was barely audible. Glover Quin’s locker sat empty for the first time I can remember. And Jean Francois was one of the few players who could muster enough energy to vent his frustration with a disappointing season.

Even after 15 games, Jean Francois struggled to say with certainty that enough players had bought in this season. There were glimpses of potential with quality wins against teams like the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers. But there was little consistency and when November came — “when football season really starts,” Jean Francois said — the Lions went 1-3.

“I don’t know,” Jean Francois said. “We must (have) didn’t buy in this year.”

It’s hard to pinpoint the motivations of 53 individual players. Maybe enough players don’t believe in Patricia and his way of doing things? Maybe they don’t believe in the scheme or how they’re being used? Maybe it’s something else?

But I can say this with absolute certainty: It has been a very difficult season for the Lions with no clear fix in sight.

The defense showed improvement this year, and might get better next year with the addition of more pieces that fit Patricia’s scheme. But now one of the defense’s leaders is questioning where the whole team is headed.

Jean Francois is right. But he’s also just right for right now. The season will be over next week and a new season will bring lots of new faces with it. For the good and the bad, there’s little carryover from one NFL season to the next. Maybe Jean Francois’ words will resonate with enough players and coaches who return next season. But maybe they won’t.

It’s impossible to know. After all, even Gandhi wasn’t wise enough to explain one of life’s biggest mysteries: the Lions.

Damon Harrison Jersey

Damon Harrison was added to the Detroit Lions halfway through last season, and made an immediate impact. Now, with Harrison perhaps wanting to stay long term in Detroit on a new deal, he hasn’t shown up for the first voluntary portion of the team’s workout period.

According to MLive.com’s Kyle Meinke, Harrison has been absent from the start of Detroit’s offseason program this week. Here’s a look at what Meinke wrote on the matter:

“Snacks Harrison wants a new contract. And so far, he hasn’t shown up for the start of the Detroit Lions’ offseason conditioning program according to multiple sources.

Harrison hasn’t spoken directly on the matter, so it’s impossible to say definitively whether the former is a motivation for the latter, nor when he intends to report. These workouts are voluntary after all, and so are OTAs after that. The only portion of the offseason program that’s mandatory is minicamp, which opens on June 4.”

So far, Harrison has been one of the team’s only notable absences from the start of the workout period other than the uncertainty with quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is dealing with the very personal matter of his wife’s brain surgery at the moment. A few months back, it was reported by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press that Harrison’s representatives could be eying a new deal in Detroit, but there has been no movement on that front, and might not figure to be until later this offseason according to Bob Quinn.

As Meinke correctly points out, everything to this point on the NFL calendar is voluntary until June 4, so that date could be a better gage of where things are at with Harrison if there is still no movement on a potential extension. He does have two years left on his current deal.

Harrison was a dominating force up front for the Lions in 2018, and that led him to being named the PFF run stuffer of the year while making a great impression on his Detroit team. It lends to the hope that the Lions have figured things out more than a bit up front with Harrison in the fold for 2019 and beyond. That should be a huge boost to the group after some of their weaknesses last year, and it could also help Harrison to stick around long term, too.

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The Lions made a big move to go out and get Harrison a few months back, and while they were not able to win their first game with the defensive tackle on the field, that did not diminish the impact Harrison was able to make for his new team just one week and barely any snaps into his Lions tenure. Harrison came into the game and immediately made his presence felt, racking up seven tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss. It was a huge debut for Harrison the likes of which had not been seen in Lions history from his position on the field, and that makes for excitement in the coming years as the team gets their elite player more comfortable.

The Lions had one major defensive weakness last season, and it’s been the ability to stop the run. Most of the offseason, they spent time upgrading their linebacking group in addition to having one of the most solid secondaries in the game. But their major problem has been interior defense, and a guy like Harrison fits them like a glove for this exact reason. Detroit has been victimized by long runs this season from the middle of the defense, and Harrison is a guy who can powerfully clog those lanes in Matt Patricia’s defense, in hope making the entire group just a little bit better. So far, he’s done that in a big way and the team looks for him to do even more in 2019, Pro Bowl or not in 2020.

So far, so good, as the team’s run defense has gotten better since Harrison come into the fold. And even though Harrison didn’t make the Pro Bowl last season, it’s tough to understate how important he has been for the Lions’ defense since coming to the team, too.

With names like Da’Shawn Hand, A’Shawn Robinson and Harrison together, Lions fans should be thrilled about the direction their defensive front is trending. And it’s safe to say Harrison changed the group as a whole himself. One day soon, that could lead him to a new contract in the Motor City.

Trey Flowers Jersey

The Detroit Lions signed Trey Flowers with the goal of changing the game for their defense in the 2019 season, and that’s just what they could be set to do while also changing the game a bit in the NFC North division. Recently, Dan Parr of NFL.com put together a piece picking out some of the biggest storylines of the division this offseason, and named some of his top additions and subtractions.

As it relates to the Lions, Flowers was named the best move within the division and Parr thinks his addition will prove to reap immediate rewards for the Lions, who need someone just like him for their defense. Here’s what he wrote:

“There’s a case to be made for four-time Pro Bowl selectee Anthony Barr, since he nearly did depart for a Jets team offering greener pastures, but we’ll go with a true newbie to the NFC North who’s more deserving of the nod here anyway. He doesn’t arrive with sexy numbers (21 sacks in four NFL seasons), but make no mistake: Flowers was a big fish to reel in and fills a huge need off the edge. The 25-year-old DE’s a palate cleanser after a year of Ezekiel Ansah playing on the franchise tag left a bad taste in the mouths of Lions fans. Flowers knows his role in the defense, having blossomed under Patricia during their three years together with the Patriots, and he was the third-highest-graded edge rusher in the league last season, per Pro Football Focus. Expectations will be high for a player who just received $56 million in guarantees, and the fact that Bill Belichick was willing to let him walk might make some folks suspicious, but he’ll be well worth the investment if he can play at the level he’s displayed over the past couple seasons.”

Flowers, 25, was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Arkansas. He essentially redshirted his rookie season, but has quickly evolved into one of the more impactful pass rushers for the Patriots. With Flowers, the Patriots should be able to stabilize that pass rush as the defensive end was able to total 6.5 sacks, 28 quarterback hits and 24 pressures last season. He’s also led the team in sacks both in 2016 and 2017, while proving he can also come up in the clutch as evidence of his two and a half sacks in Super Bowl LI against the Falcons.

Speaking in a clip from the Lions, Flowers explains that he had been to Detroit before, and not merely for away games when he was playing with the New England Patriots through the last few years.

“It’s a pretty nice city from what I’ve heard,” Flowers says in a video to DetroitLions.com reporter Tori Petry with a smile. “Actually, I’ve been here a few times. My grandmother used to live up here, so I came to visit her a few times. My mom’s got a lot of family here, so I’m excited to really be a resident here and see what it’s about.”

It wasn’t merely blood family which drove Flowers to consider Detroit, but the family atmosphere in the Detroit locker room, too. Matt Patricia is running the show in Detroit now as the head coach, and that’s a guy Flowers has a great deal of respect for. In the end, it made the choice of weighing Detroit’s offer with his agent a lot easier this past week when the different opportunities presented themselves across the league.

“I knew Matty P was here, he’s a guy who brought me into New England and developed me there, so that’s when I kind of got the idea that it might be cool to be a Detroit Lion,” he said.

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Specifically, it’s clear that Flowers has a ton of respect for Patricia not just as a coach but as a man. As he said, there is so much more than meets the eye about the Lions’ boss.

“He’s a player’s coach. He’s a coach that’s going to get a lot out of you. He’s going to get the highest potential. He demands high standards of excellence,” Flowers said. “Being in that building with him with the Patriots, just seeing how week in and week out he comes into the meeting rooms and just understanding that, you might have had a good play, but he needs you to have a great play. Then he’ll talk to you about your personal life, get around to asking things about your family. He’s an all around good guy and great coach.”

That combination makes Flowers a dangerous addition to the Lions, and in the thoughts of many, the most dangerous addition to a fairly loaded NFC North division as well.

Danny Amendola Jersey

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Danny Amendola had to watch his old team the New England Patriots capture their third Super Bowl in the past five years without him.

Amendola was a part of two of those wins, but headed to Miami as a free agent last offseason. While Patriots fans can’t complain about how their season ended, it’s clear from Amendola’s Twitter account just how much he is missed by Patriots Nation.

See how an innocent tweet about candy turned into a full-on recruiting effort by loyal Pats fans.

First it was Matt Patricia with the Detroit Lions, and then it was Mike Vrabel, Malcolm Butler, Dion Lewis and Logan Ryan with the Tennessee Titans. On Sunday, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Danny Amendola joins the growing list of former New England Patriots players and coaches looking to hand his former team its comeuppance.

It’s official: the 2018 season for the Patriots is a scene straight out of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.That cheesy romantic comedy that forces actor Matthew McConaughey’s character to come to grips with past relationships bears a striking resemblance to what the Patriots have dealt with all year long.

In every past relationship, there’s always one that hurts the most. It’s that heart bursting wide open with nostalgic feelings of happiness and sadness kind of hurt.

That literally sums up the feelings of seeing Amendola—a former two-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots—now catching passes in a Dolphins uniform. We are far enough into the season to grade Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s decision to pass on doling out a raise that would have kept one of quarterback Tom Brady’s most reliable receiving targets in New England.

Make no mistake, Amendola never wanted to leave the Patriots. His decision to seek greener pastures stemmed from what he referred to as a “significantly” lowball offer from Belichick in comparison to others on the table.

“I understood that I gave money back to [Belichick] so I could play for him and play for my teammates and fulfill my side of the contract, and at the end of the day, I had faith that he was going to give me an opportunity to stay,” Amendola told ESPN’s Mike Reiss back in April. “When free agency broke, I came to the realization that he wasn’t going to really come close to any of the other offers I had. I had to make a decision for my family and go down to Miami and continue my career there.”

How has that decision worked out for the Patriots?

It could have been worse if the Cleveland Browns weren’t so kind enough to ship an early Christmas present in Josh Gordon to the Patriots for a fifth-round draft pick. The troubled 27-year-old wideout bought into the Patriot Way and ingratiated himself as one of the key contributors on the team.

However, this was never about a Gordon and Amendola comparison. If anything, Gordon is a premium replacement for former Patriots wideout Brandin Cooks. With tight end Rob Gronkowski still looking gimpy and Gordon’s lack of playoff experience, it would have behooved the Patriots to shell out the extra money needed to convince Amendola to stay.

There’s a reason why he earned the nickname Playoff ‘Dola. His contributions in the Patriots’ last two Super Bowl runs have fortified him as a living legend in Foxborough.

The thought of Brady having Gordon, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Amendola at his disposal is a nightmare defensive coordinators around the league are thankful to have avoided. Letting Amendola walk out the door to Miami was obviously a mistake on the Patriots’ part, but given all the moves that followed, Belichick has done a tremendous job of making up for it.

The Patriots are exactly where they need to be in the month of December. As for Amendola, he’ll have another opportunity to take his best shot at his former flame, completely cognizant of the fact that he’ll never find a greater football connection.

Graham Glasgow Jersey

position — but also hasn’t allowed a single sack. He ranks 12th at the position overall, according to PFF.

And once again, his consistency stands out for a unit that continues to ride some ups and downs. He’s now started 38 straight games overall, fifth most at the position.

“That’s the biggest thing,” coach Matt Patricia said. “Graham, he is consistent. Every single week he’s in there battling. … Graham’s a tough guy, he’s a smart guy, he’s a grind-it-out guy. Every single week he battles away in there. It’s tough inside, and he pulls himself back together and goes out and does it again. So, a lot of respect for that position and him battling all the way through that. It’s not easy.”

It won’t be this week, either.

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald leads the NFL in sacks, and has been heating up lately with multiple sacks in four of his last five games. He also leads the NFL in hurries and leads all defensive linemen with three forced fumbles.

He’s making a real case to be the third defensive player ever to win MVP.

But the usual bag of tricks for handling an interior disruptor like that is limited because he’s got All-Pro Ndamukong Suh lining up next to him, and Dante Fowler and Michael Brockers are no slouches either.

The Rams defense has been average this season, but that defensive front is no joke, especially in the passing game. And with Kerryon Johnson out with a knee injury, Detroit could be required to pass to beat Los Angeles.

So Glasgow’s ability to hold up against Donald and Suh on the interior figures to be one of Detroit’s biggest keys.

“I think it just comes down to you can’t scheme it up as much,” Glasgow said. “I mean, Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark are a pretty good tandem. And some would say (Eddie) Goldman and (Akiem) Hicks are also pretty good. Everybody is good. But these guys are also really good. It just kind of comes down to you can’t scheme everything up. You can’t always scheme up double-teams, and sometimes it will come down to one-on-one blocks and making sure we come out on the better end of them.”

Taylor Decker Jersey

Taylor Decker

Phoenix — It might seem like a formality, but the Detroit Lions remain undecided on whether to pick up offensive tackle Taylor Decker’s fifth-year option.

“That’s something we have to decide upon I think about a week after the draft,” general manager Bob Quinn said. “That’s about a May 7 deadline, so no decision yet.”

Quinn’s first draft pick as Lions general manager, he chose Decker No. 16 overall in 2016. After a strong rookie season, Decker suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery during an OTA practice and missed half of the 2017 season.

In 2018, playing in all 16 games, Decker graded as Pro Football Focus’ 35th-ranked offensive tackle, thriving as a pass protector (No. 14), while lagging behind his peers as a run blocker (No. 100).

The fifth-year option for first-round picks outside the top 10 is an average of the third through 25th highest salaries at their position and is guaranteed only for injury. In 2018, the fifth-year option for an offensive lineman selected between 11-32 was $9.625 million.

The Lions didn’t have an option decision last season after trading away 2015 first-round pick Laken Tomlinson. Two years ago, the team exercised the option on tight end Eric Ebron, but released him days before the deal became fully guaranteed at the start of the new league year.

As a top-10 pick, Ebron’s option would have cost the average of the top-10 highest-paid players the position, or $8.25 million that year.

Michael Roberts Jersey

Allen Park, Mich. – The Detroit Lions announced today that they have placed DE Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder) and TE Michael Roberts (shoulder) on Reserve-Injured. In addition, the club announced that they have signed TE Jerome Cunningham and OL Leo Koloamatangi from the practice squad to the active roster.

After beginning the 2018 season on the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad, Cunningham was signed by Detroit to the practice squad during Week 4 of this season. Currently in his second NFL season, he has appeared in 10 games (three starts) and recorded eight receptions and 59 receiving yards. Cunningham originally entered the NFL in 2014 with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent out of Southern Connecticut State.

Koloamatangi joins the active roster after stints on the Lions practice squad during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. He originally entered the NFL with the Lions in 2017 as an undrafted free agent out of Hawaii.

Allen Park — Ziggy Ansah’s season is over. Same for tight end Michael Roberts. The Detroit Lions placed both players on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday, each with a shoulder injury.

Ansah has a history of shoulder injuries. He entered the NFL with an issue, which he had surgically corrected before his second season in 2014. He suffered another shoulder injury in the season opener this year, costing him the next six game, and he left the field in tears on Sunday after he re-aggravated the injury making a tackle late in the first quarter.

He finishes his season, and possibly his time with the Detroit Lions, having appeared in seven games and 4.0 sacks.

The No. 5 pick in the 2013 draft, Ansah ranks fourth on the franchise’s all-time sack list with 48.0. He had been playing this season on the franchise tag, which paid him $17.1 million. He’s set to be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

As for Roberts, he’d been battling a shoulder injury since last month. In his second season out of Toledo, the former fourth-round pick caught nine passes for 100 yard and three touchdowns.

To fill the two roster openings, the Lions promoted a pair of players off the practice squad, tight end Jerome Cunningham and offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi.