The Detroit Lions have some big decisions to make this offseason, and that’s true even after the biggest shoe has dropped with Matthew Stafford.
Some might say the Stafford news was only the beginning for the Lions, who will need to make some big decisions in the coming weeks in order to figure out what their team will look like next season. In addition to the choices they will have to make in free agency outside of the team, there are some interesting names to remember from last season’s roster that need to return. It’s not going to be possible for everyone, but focusing on these players would be a good start for the team.
Who should the Lions make room for on the team again when all is said and done? Here’s a look at some of the key names to remember heading toward free agency.
Romeo Okwara, Defensive End
Okwara, who came alive at the right time for Detroit most of the 2020 season, is a player the team should find a place for given the lack of quality pass rush options this offseason. As a whole this season, Okwara managed to collect the most sacks of any Lions player (10) and he also thrives on creating pressure and panic in the pocket. With this in mind, it’s fair to say that Okwara figures to drive the bus for Detroit in terms of pass rush and has been going it alone most of the time in Detroit. That could only boost his stock when all is said and done this offseason, and should keep him near the top of the list in terms of players who should return.
Don Muhlbach, Long Snapper
Muhlbach has been a Pro Bowler a pair of times in his career, in 2012 and 2018. He’s also been the team’s nominee for the Art Rooney Award before, which shows the class that Muhlbach has on the field and the respect he has across the league for what he does. To be honest, he is the most irreplaceable player on special teams given how well he has done his job for years. This is Muhlbach’s job until he says no, so the Lions need to hope that he wants to keep going and snapping in 2021. Another veteran minimum deal should be a slam dunk if he does.
Mohamed Sanu, Wide Receiver
Sanu didn’t have a long run with the Lions this past season, but in the time he had late after being added to the mix, the 32 year-old proved he could still get it done as a pass catcher. There doesn’t figure to be a huge market for Sanu, but the veteran could be a good body to have around for the depth of the team. The Lions seem likely to lose Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola, and a decision with Kenny Golladay could become complicated given financial realities. Sanu put up 178 yards and 1 touchdown down the stretch and looked like a viable weapon. He could be a good low-cost depth player to keep in the mix for the offense that would not break the bank. Sanu could also serve as a good mentor if the Lions draft a top-flight wideout early as many expect they will.
Jamal Agnew, Cornerback/Wide Receiver/Returner
Many might not think about Agnew when it comes to remembering home-grown talents, but he has been elite as a return man. While Agnew might not have a clear position between cornerback and wide receiver, his work as a punt and kick returner should garner him a roster spot easily. Providing he wants to come back, the team should be eager to try and sign him. In his career, he’s scored 5 total touchdowns and been a game-breaker from time to time. The special teams group needs all the help they can get, and Agnew often provides a much-needed spark.
Kenny Golladay, Wide Receiver
Golladay is one of the top free agents this year and a player who is capable of big catches on the field constantly. The Lions are set to have a major hole at wideout, so could they really afford to let Golladay, one of their best offensive weapons, walk? The answer is no, and it seems as if the Lions will agree and find a way to keep Golladay with a franchise tag, perhaps with a decision to be made as it relates to his long-term future later on. Keeping Golladay would be a good way to start Jared Goff’s tenure in Detroit, as he is one of the most reliable deep ball weapons in the league when he is healthy.