With the 2021-22 season all but wrapped up, the Detroit Lions are beginning to shift their focus toward the offseason and how they might improve their roster in meaningful ways to see jumps on the field.
Detroit has to find a way to bolster the depth of their roster, and a big way the team can get that done is to make some well-placed free agency additions in a few months. The Lions will have a bit of money with which to operate, and if NBC Sports analyst Rodney Harrison is to be believed, they’re going to have to use it in order to lure some folks into the mix.
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Speaking a few weeks back in breaking down the Lions in a Safety Blitz segment, Harrison cast an eye ahead to the future, where he admitted he believes the Lions will have to overpay a few players to find the right kind of talent to contend in 2022 and beyond. A few of the names he suggested will be the bigger ones available this coming offseason in wideout Chris Godwin and safety Marcus Williamson.
“In order for them to take that next step, they’re going to have to upgrade their roster. What does that mean? They’re going to have to get free agents to come to Detroit. How do you get free agents to come to Detroit? If you don’t have a great quarterback, which they don’t have, you got to overpay guys,” Harrison said. “So if it’s me, I’m going to get guys that can make a difference like a Chris Godwin. You might have to overpay for him to come to the team, or a safety like Marcus Williams if the Saints don’t decide to pay him. You got to bring impact players in here, into to Detroit and surround these impact players with the talent that you already have and see what happens. But nobody wants to come to Detroit if you’re not going to overpay and that’s what they’re going to have to do. They have to get some more talent and overpay.”
Godwin is scheduled to be one of the top wideouts on the market, and though he finished the 2021 season in poor fashion with an injury, he could still figure to be a top-end player that shows up and commands a bigger salary thanks to what he has done. This past year, Godwin put up 1,103 yards and 5 touchdowns. Williams was re-signed to a one-year deal last offseason, but might command a big-time salary given the 72 tackles and 2 interceptions he has put up thus far this season.
Last year, the Lions showed a willingness to dish out just one big contract to Romeo Okwara, but stuck to lower-term deals for most everyone else. It will be interesting to see if that’s the plan or not moving forward for the team this season.
Harrison can be counted as one analyst that sees the Lions needing to be splashy and put a few big contract offers out to keep player interested when the time comes.
Lions Have Cap Space for 2022 Improvements
If the Lions do have to overpay someone, they should at the very least have funds for the move. After it was revealed that the NFL salary cap would be $208.2 million for 2022, a fresh look at the numbers was provided from Spotrac and Over The Cap courtesy of user Lions Royalty on Twitter. As it shows, the Lions are expected to start with just under $40 million in cap space next offseason.
Detroit, of course, could free up even more cap space with some cuts. There are multiple players who could be on the block for that, including key veteran names such as defensive lineman like Trey Flowers and Nick Williams, or an offensive lineman like Halapoulivaati Vaitai. The team could have more money to spend in the future with this in mind.
Overall, Detroit should have the cash to attack free agency in the way Harrison suggests if they choose to do so.
Lions’ 2022 Free Agency Primer
How can the Lions manage to make some improvements? For starters, the team will have to think about adding some offensive weapons to the mix. Detroit’s wideout group has lagged behind because of a lack of depth most of all in 2021, so making sure a top-flight wideout comes into the mix via trade or signing to help Jared Goff might be the top priority for the team. From there, the Lions need to think about bolstering the defense. Help could be needed up front and on the back end and potentially at linebacker as well.
In his first offseason, Lions general manager Brad Holmes shied away from big deals, focusing instead on smaller deals to help supplement his roster. Several of those deals have panned out, from names like Kalif Raymond to Charles Harris. The same approach could be expected this offseason, so the Lions might make one bigger splash while choosing to focus on multiple other smaller splashes to help supplement things.
Regardless, as Harrison explains, bigger splashes could be necessary to get the Lions where they need to be in the standings.
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