The key word for Lions GM Bob Quinn during free agency: Versatility

Trey Flowers' ability to move along the defensive line made him a coveted free-agent target for Lions GM Bob Quinn. Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

It's a word you should be used to by now if you've been following the NFL for any length of time, or at least the Detroit Lions since Bob Quinn took over as general manager in early 2016: versatility.

Or, put another way, position flexibility.

When Quinn looked at some of the bigger signings the Lions made during free agency earlier this month, those two descriptors kept coming up. They popped up with Justin Coleman and Trey Flowers. And while it wasn't mentioned specifically, the fact that players such as Zach Zenner, Tommylee Lewis and Danny Amendola could be versatile enough to have special-teams and offensive roles only increased their value.

So the more you can do, the more it makes sense for you to be in Detroit. Take Flowers, whom the Lions gave $90 million -- $56 million guaranteed -- to serve as a replacement for Ezekiel Ansah as an edge rusher.

"Feel he's going to be able to be a three-down player for us," Quinn told reporters Monday at the owners meetings in Phoenix. "And really increase that level of play across the defensive line and obviously play multiple positions, so that was a guy we targeted, obviously."

Flowers can play all over the defensive line, and the Lions are hoping his production at least matches, if not surpasses, the 7.5 sacks he had in New England last season -- and eventually, the 21 sacks he's registered since the Patriots drafted him in 2015. Quinn then talked about Coleman, who played some on the outside in New England and was an inside corner for two years in Seattle.

The same description came up: "Position versatility," because that's something that's always been important to Quinn.

"Position versatility, for sure, is key," Quinn said. "Going forward he's more inside than outside but we're going to kind of go through the process and see how he fits within our group."

Based on Detroit's moves thus far, the outside corner spot opposite Darius Slay is loaded with questions as Rashaan Melvin, Mike Ford and Teez Tabor compete for the role. But if the Lions feel good with, say, Jamal Agnew in the slot, Coleman could end up playing both outside and inside in Detroit.

It was clear how much Detroit valued the onetime Patriots. The Lions targeted Flowers and Coleman early in free agency and got both deals done fast, giving the two nearly $74 million in guaranteed money.

"There's certain years you can be more aggressive than others, and I think with the money that we paid those guys, the contracts speak to what we think of 'em," Quinn said. "And that they can help us win games, and that's the bottom line.

"We want to get as many players into our team and our scheme that can help us win, and that's my goal."