The Detroit Lions once again looked to the New England Patriots pipeline to fill a potential defensive need, agreeing to terms with cornerback Darryl Roberts on a one-year deal Thursday, a source confirmed to ESPN.
He is the fourth defensive player with Patriots ties to join the club this offseason, along with safety Duron Harmon, linebacker Jamie Collins and defensive tackle Danny Shelton.
Roberts, 29, was drafted by New England in the seventh round of the 2015 draft, but he never played for the club, going on injured reserve at the start of the 2015 season and being waived before the start of the 2016 season. The New York Jets claimed Roberts a day later.
The Lions have a potential opening at cornerback opposite Desmond Trufant, who was signed hours before the club traded Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles last month.
Roberts may end up competing with Amani Oruwariye and possibly an early draft pick for a starting role next to Trufant and slot corner Justin Coleman. Roberts played on 65% of the Jets’ defensive snaps in both 2018 and 2019 along with having a role on special teams (at least 31% of snaps each of past three seasons).
NFL Network first reported the Lions’ agreement with Roberts.
Roberts showed some promise with New York in 2018 as a hybrid corner-safety. He was handed a starting job in 2019 but struggled in coverage. He played in 13 games, starting 10, and finished with one interception and 61 tackles. He also committed eight penalties and allowed 10 touchdowns along with an over-100 passer rating in each of the past two seasons, according to Pro Football Reference.
In four seasons, Roberts has three interceptions, 27 passes defensed and 172 tackles in 56 games (26 starts).
ESPN’s Rich Cimini contributed to this report.