Matt Patricia said he wants to make the Detroit Lions a winning team. While we are still six months from the 2018 season, one thing you have to give him and GM Bob Quinn credit for, already, is going out and signing some really good free agents well before the upcoming draft.

Willson inks deal

The Detroit Lions have found their replacement for Eric Ebron. According to a Freep report, the Lions agreed to terms Wednesday on a one-year contract with veteran tight end Luke Willson. Willson visited the Lions brass last week and must have liked what he learned and observed as he will now be running pass patterns for the Honolulu Blue and Silver this fall.

In a way, it is almost like a homecoming for Willson, who is a native of Windsor, which is just a stone's throw away from Motown. The 28-year-old former Rice University standout spent his entire five-season career with the Seattle Seahawks.

In 2017, Willson caught just 15 passes in 16 games, but look for that number to go up quite a bit in the Lions offense. Stafford spreads the wealth around on offense and with the addition of LeGarrette Blount at running back, play action passes and screens to tight ends will surely make Willson a key player in the offensive scheme.

Defense on Patricia’s mind

Ricky Jean-Francois and Johnathan Hankins would be great additions to the Detroit Lions defense, and according to numerous reports, both of these two defensive studs could be calling Ford Field home in 2018.

According to Pro Football Talk, former Colts defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and former Patriots defensive tackle Alan Branch are both expected to visit the Lions during their free agency tours.

Branch may have an inside edge with the Lions brass in terms of having a real chance of signing with Detroit. Branch played for Patricia over the last four years in New England, so they both have a good feel for each other.

Add to that, Branch having played college football at the University of Michigan, and it would seem that he would be a perfect fit to suit up for the Lions.

Branch isn’t the only former Patriot Matt Patricia has his eye on.

According to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, the Lions are currently working on a deal to add defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois. Francois spent the 2017 season with the Green Bay Packers before ending the year with the Patriots.

Francois, who was drafted in 2009 by the San Francisco 49ers has also played for the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins as well.