The Lions hired General Manager Bob Quinn out of the Patriots front office in 2016 and they hired head coach Matt Patricia off the Patriots coaching staff this year, so there are likely to be dots connected to Patriots players who might be available on the open market this offseason.
One such player is cornerback Malcolm Butler, who is set for free agency after finishing out his contract with the Patriots while sitting on the bench during their Super Bowl LII loss to the Eagles. On Wednesday in Indianapolis, Patricia said Butler is ” like one of my sons” and said they have an “extremely strong” relationship without making any specific comments about the possibility of Butler joining him in Detroit.
The Lions will have some openings at corner alongside Darius Slay with D.J. Hayden and Nevin Lawson headed for free agency and Quandre Diggs now seeing time at safety. Quinn suggested 2017 rookies Jamal Agnew and Teez Tabor are in line to step into bigger roles next season.
“I think there’s a pretty good chance they are internal,” Quinn said, via ESPN.com. “We drafted those guys for a reason last year, and when we evaluated them in the postseason process, we liked what they did and their role.”
The Lions aren’t going to show their hand at this point when it comes to Butler or any outside additions to that group, but Agnew and Tabor’s presence may lead them to devote their attentions elsewhere when free agency opens on March 14.