Grading Lions' free-agent moves reflects ho-hum level of signings

The Lions may regret releasing tight end Eric Ebron, particularly with Jimmy Graham and Trey Burton signing elsewhere. Getty Images

A breakdown of the initial wave of free agency for the Detroit Lions:

Overall grade: C+. It has been a rather ho-hum free-agency period for the Lions after they franchise-tagged star defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. Detroit made no splashy signings and didn't bring in any big-time difference-makers like they did in the past with Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner.

Most significant signing: Linebacker Devon Kennard. He is the player the Lions gave the most money to and if he's able to provide Detroit with a good pass rush as an outside linebacker/defensive end, then he'll be perhaps the biggest difference-maker in Detroit's class. But that's asking for a big jump from a player who has 9.5 career sacks (and just five sacks total in the last three seasons). That he's the most significant signing (since Ansah doesn't count, as a tagged player) should tell you all you need to know about how the Lions approached free agency.

Most significant loss: Tight end Eric Ebron -- and that was something of the Lions' own doing. Releasing Ebron still doesn't make much sense, particularly after Jimmy Graham (Green Bay) and Trey Burton (Chicago) signed elsewhere. Ebron became the best tight end on the market when he was released and the Lions appear to be replacing him (and Darren Fells) with Luke Willson and likely a draft pick. As polarizing as Ebron was in Detroit, he was better than those options for 2018.

Player they should have signed: Burton. Based on the four-year, $32 million deal he signed with Chicago, he still would have cost less than Ebron overall and would have given Detroit a young option who could have ended up being an upgrade with a bigger role. Burton's stats in Philadelphia weren't close to Ebron's in Detroit, but Burton also had fewer opportunities. The same could be said of Willson, who the Lions eventually signed, but Burton has shown much more durability than the new Detroit tight end.

Additions: Jake Rudock, QB (re-signed); LeGarrette Blount, RB; Zach Zenner, RB (re-signed); TJ Jones, WR (RFA tender); Luke Willson, TE; Kenny Wiggins, TE; Kerry Hyder, DE (re-signed); Christian Ringo, DT (re-signed); Sylvester Williams, DT; Devon Kennard, LB; Christian Jones, LB; Jonathan Freeny, LB; Nick Bellore, LB (re-signed); DeShawn Shead, CB, Nevin Lawson, CB (re-signed); Tavon Wilson, S (re-signed).

Subtractions: Mike James, RB (unsigned); Eric Ebron, TE, Indianapolis; Darren Fells, TE, Cleveland; Travis Swanson, C (unsigned); Zac Kerin, OG (unsigned); Greg Robinson, OT (unsigned); Don Barclay, OL (unsigned); Brandon Copeland, DE/LB, New York Jets; Dwight Freeney, DE (unsigned); Haloti Ngata, DT, Philadelphia; Rodney Coe, DT (unsigned); Jordan Hill, DT (unsigned); Tahir Whitehead, LB, Oakland, Paul Worrilow, LB (unsigned); D.J. Hayden, CB, Jacksonville; Don Carey, S, Jacksonville; Kasey Redfern, P (unsigned).

What's next: With around $11 million in cap room (before rookie money is put aside and the Freeny contract was in place), Detroit could make a move for another free agent or two on either the offensive or defensive lines at a reasonable cost. Some bargain-type players could be out there at this point, including defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, who visited the Lions, and Sealver Siliga. Most of the focus, though, will turn to the draft. That's where Detroit will more than likely end up adding any potential playmakers over the next month based on who is still available in free agency.