The first day of free agency wasn't terribly notable for the Lions. The biggest news involving Detroit was the fact that Gosder Cherilus is headed to Indianapolis, as the Colts decided to overpay him just a tinge because they really needed an offensive tackle. Their only signing of note was bringing back Amari Spievey. However, there were some names a percolating, and all four of those rumors came to fruition. They Lions have re-signed Chris Houston, and they've added defensive lineman Jason Jones, safety Glover Quin, and, the biggest name of them all, Reggie Bush.
First, let's look at the defensive signings. Jones provides decent depth for the Lions on their defensive line, which they need, especially since Sammie Hill is headed to Tennessee. Jones played under Coach Schwartz in Tennessee, so there is some familiarity. He can play some end or some tackle, which gives Detroit flexibility. Assuming this is a cheap deal, which I imagine it is, that's fine. He's 26 and it's a three year deal. Works for me.
Now, as for the more important deals. Detroit's biggest area of concern was the secondary, and Houston and Quin both help in that regard. Of course, Houston was with the Lions last season. However, he also wasn't the issue. He's a good player and he's a worthy starting cornerback in the NFL. He's the best player in this secondary currently. The deal is for five years, which is a bit long, but of course what really matters with NFL deals is the guaranteed money. Houston's deal is reportedly for $25 million. That seems fair, especially for a position of need.
Quin's deal is also for five years, and I like this signing even more, although I don't know what the money is. Quin's spent his entire career so far with the Houston Texans, and last season he had 84 tackles, two forced fumbles, two interceptions, and 14 passes defensed. He's a good player who just turned 27. I think he and Louis Delmas are close in terms of talent. While I feel Delmas is better, here's a key difference: Quin has only missed one game ever, and it was during his rookie season. He's been durable, which Delmas has not. That's another good thing.
Don't count out the Lions bringing back Delmas, although now if they don't re-sign him they will be OK. They should still get another safety, but they can do that in the Draft. More to the point, they can prioritize it less, maybe wait until the third round, and that way they can spend their second round pick on a cornerback (this presumes their first round pick is a defensive end). Of course, they still need a new outside linebacker as well. That being said, I like all of these moves for Detroit.
Which is not how I feel about the Bush deal. I was worried about the Lions signing Bush as soon as the rumors started swirling. Now, it has come to fruition. The deal is for four years, and is evidently only for $16 million. That kind of surprised me, and makes this more palatable. Not that I like it. Bush is still a 28-year-old running back with injury concerns. He's on the downside of his career. Yes, he shouldered the load in Miami the last couple of seasons, but he hasn't been that good. His traditional stats are solid, but places like Football Outsiders show him as being less stellar.
Of course, Bush is also a key cog in the passing game. The Lions have basically signed him to provide what Jahvid Best was supposed to (speaking of which, Best's time with Detroit is presumably over now). However, I don't know if he can really do that. I legitimately, truly think Joique Bell can be as good as Bush this season, and certainly by next season.
Does Bush make the Lions better? Yes, but this isn't being done in a vacuum. The Lions have given money to Bush that could have been allocated elsewhere. Running backs are the most fungible position in the NFL. I think Bush will be good this season. I don't think he will be a viable NFL running back by the end of this contract. He could easily end up cut. Detroit could have spent this money on the defense, or even the offensive line. It would have been better spent on wide receivers even.
I would have been happier with a cheap free agent signing and a late draft pick. Now, they can't really afford to do anything else in regards to their running backs. The Bush signing puts too many eggs in an aging basket. While I think the Lions improved their defense and, yes, their offense with these signings, the cost of improving their offense just wasn't worth it. You don't win games with big name signings, and (vacated) Heisman Trophies don't provide value on the field.