Will the Detroit Lions try to secure a better free agent this offseason?
Breaking out the checkbook isn’t always a recipe for success, but at the very least it will get people talking in the offseason. Will the Detroit Lions be willing to pay for a big name in free agency?
A few weeks ago, I touched on a few potential free agent targets for the Lions of various expenses. Low-cost free agents can become roster staples, either as depth plays or breakthrough starters. The Lions have been fairly quiet in previous offseasons, relying on low-cost candidates, with great success as well. Of the free agent signings made by general manager Brad Holmes, perhaps only DJ Chark counts as a splash signing. Depending on your opinion of Chark’s 2022 season, this may or may not be a signing flop.
With the Lions making progress last season, this suddenly calls the competitive landscape into question. Are the Lions a few key additions away from being playoff contenders? And if so, are the Lions ready to acquire said players via expensive free agent deals? The Lions have done well to develop their talent via the draft, but an extra star or two could be the boost they need. With news surfacing that the Lions were pursuing cornerback Jalen Ramsey, it shows that Holmes and company weren’t afraid to switch franchises.
However, dreams are cheap and reality often presents a more complicated situation. For one thing, there are 31 other teams potentially bidding for a player’s services, which alone can drive up the price. Additionally, many top players seek to outplay players in their same position. If a top 10 wide receiver gets an $18 million annual contract, the next prized wide receiver to hit free agency will be looking for a similar contract or, more likely, an even bigger amount. Deshaun Watson’s fully guaranteed contract with the Cleveland Browns threatens to shake up the quarterback market as we know it. One ridiculous contract can change the entire NFL, for better or for worse.
The Lions will be heavily involved this offseason. Whether that means spending big, spending sparingly, or a mix of both remains to be seen.
Today’s question of the day is:
Will the Detroit Lions cause a stir by signing in free agency?
My answer: I don’t think they will.
This will obviously depend on your definition of a “splash” signing, but to me that means signing someone who is a Day 1 starter and an obvious upgrade from the previous starter. Two names that are at the top of my expensive wish list are Jamel Dean and Tremaine Edmunds. Dean would instantly become the Lions’ top corner, cementing a much-needed and critical defensive position. Not to be outdone, Edmunds would give the Lions a real star at linebacker, something that has been missing for a while. long time in Detroit.
That being said, the salary cap still complicates the matter. While the idea of throwing big bucks at Dean or Edmunds (or both) sounds great on paper, you need it to fit in the cap. It could be handled with a contract loaded back or years canceled (like Chark’s deal), but the Lions don’t have unlimited leeway to splurge on free agents. Read Erik Schlitt’s breakdown of the salary cap to get a closer look at where the Lions stand, but the bottom line is that between re-signings and rookies, the Lions might not be on the hunt for a free agent high level.
I think it’s more likely to target multiple mid-level beginners with high caps. DeShon Elliott and Mike Hughes last offseason were examples of this strategy, albeit with mixed results. Players like Drue Tranquill, Alex Singleton, Greg Gaines or Sean Murphy-Bunting might not break the bank, but such moves would give potential to Lions starters.
Despite all the good that happened last season, I still think the Lions have too many holes to spend a significant amount of money on a splash signing. If the Lions manage to make this a team-friendly deal, I’m all for it.
The Lions need more top talent – I just hope they can work some salary magic to make it happen. In the meantime, I’m keeping an eye out for small signatures. In September or December, they could turn out to be just as important.
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