The Detroit Lions are off to a hot start in free agency after agreeing to terms with tight end Jesse James.
In a rare free agency signing that did not come via the New England Patriots, the Detroit Lions are reportedly signing free agent tight end Jesse James, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported the signing between the two via Twitter.
James was considered expendable after Vance McDonald seized the reigns at the tight end position last year for the Steelers. Detroit has been in the tight end market for the past year after losing former tight end Eric Ebron to the Indianapolis Colts last year.
Detroit already made a big splash when they added former Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers. They made Flowers one of the top paid defensive lineman in the NFL with their contract.
Neal Coolong of USA Today could not help himself in finding a Patriots connection for the Lions.
Jon Ledyard of The Draft Network, a noted Steelers fan, thinks James is a solid player.
Mike Clay of ESPN hit the Lions fans with a fantasy angle and how James could help the new look Lions offense
This is not a needle moving transaction. Instead this is a team being smart and not entering the draft with glaring holes. There was already a connection between the Lions and the drafts’ top tight ends. Now they can see James as a stop-gap and not force the team to reach on a tight end.
On the field, James offers a type of player the Lions have not had. Eric Ebron was a good tight end but never really gelled with Matthew Stafford or the coaching staff. James, at just 24 years old, is already one of the better blockers at the tight end position. While that was a calling card of his in Pittsburgh, he also brings solid athleticism to the table and a capable pass catcher.
Detroit transitioned to a more balanced offense a year ago and having a tight end that can block like James allows them to continue that identity.