The Detroit Lions have had a busy offseason to this point, and all the moves they have made comes with the goal of making the team take a bigger step toward contender status in 2023.
But how well have the Lions done with getting themselves to that point in actuality? Is the team actually closer to contending now than they were when free agency started? After the early moves have been made and the dust is settled, some answers are being revealed on that front.
Two of the biggest moves the team has made were the signings of cornerback Cameron Sutton and defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson. The moves of the team to bring both into the mix shored up a major weakness from the 2022 team, and could make them contenders.
Bleacher Report and Kristopher Knox took a look at naming the most impactful moves from free agency thus far. As he found, the team signing Sutton and Gardner-Johnson placed on the list, and could transform the Lions into contenders.
The reasoning? Each have been added at potentially the biggest need spot on the entire roster for the Lions stands out. Both can add a sorely needed element of playmaking to a woeful secondary, and a defense that finished 32nd in the league last season.
“Sutton and Gardner-Johnson recorded a combined 23 passes defended and nine interceptions in 2022. Sutton allowed an opposing passer rating of only 65.3, while Gardner-Johnson allowed an opposing passer rating of just 78.4. The Lions’ 30th-ranked pass defense will see a significant boost with these two in the fold, and Detroit is now arguably the most talented team in the division,” Knox wrote in the piece of Detroit.
As a result of these moves, Knox sees the future prospects for the Lions as bright. As he wrote, the team would have been tough in the playoffs last season, but now they will simply be a tough out moving forward.
“The 2022 Lions would have been dangerous had they sneaked into the postseason. The 2023 Lions won’t be sneaking into anything, and with an improved secondary, they’ll be a tough out for any opponent,” he wrote.
It could be as simple as saying the Lions will be in great shape to be contenders simply based on these two moves. That’s even better news considering the NFL draft hasn’t even taken shape yet.
Already, the Lions are looking poised to have a bright future in the league. They could have themselves as quick contenders in 2023 as a result of two simple signings.
Cameron Sutton Excited to Join Lions
Not only did the Lions add a pair of talents at key spots, but they added key veteran players who can step up and bring the team together. Such is the case for Sutton,
The cornerback is being counted on to be a big piece of the puzzle for the Lions. While he was speaking to the media after joining the team, Sutton reiterated how excited he was to come to the team, and to be able to be put in a position where his experience can help. As he also said, he isn’t shying away from any expectations at all.
“I’m really excited for this opportunity. I’m so excited for this opportunity. Speaking from experience, things that have been my mode. To be able to put me in the situation where I can do this for this organization and be who I need to be for the guys and for this team. I’m head over heels excited about that. As much as it is a challenge, you really embrace that. It’s going to be fun. I’m not shying away from nothing of expectations here, or that’s needed from an individual, and we’ll be able to come together,” Sutton said.
Hearing this, it’s clear Sutton is just the type of player that the Lions could need in order to help turn things around. He seems to have the right kind of plan for Detroit to bring things together, and is used to playing for a team with high aspirations.
C.J. Gardner-Johnson Bullish on Lions’ Chances
Not only was Sutton a potential game-changing addition for Detroit, so too was Gardner-Johnson. The veteran defensive back comes from a situation where his former team the Philadelphia Eagles won the division and went to the Super Bowl.
To some, landing in Detroit would be a major leap of faith for a player like Gardner-Johnson. He doesn’t completely see things that way, though. Speaking to the media on Monday, March 20, Gardner-Johnson admitted he sees Detroit with a very bright future in the league.
As he said, the team has all the elements in place to enjoy major success on the field. Gardner-Johnson knows this based on the other spots where he has played and what he has helped those teams to accomplish.
“This team is talented. This team, we could win a division. Possibly win a division this year. Everybody should feel that way, but when I look at the team coming from where I came from, all the teams I played on won multiple divisions been to playoff games, been to the Super Bowl. This team has what it takes to get there, win the division get to the playoffs. They got to start with, ‘what’s your identity?’ ‘Who are you?’ I think that’s gonna start when you get back with each other on a mandatory date to kick in,” Gardner-Johnson told the media.
Not only do the players seem to think they can help the Lions turn over a new leaf, but the media is firmly on that boat as well. By the end of 2023, it might be as simple to say that the Lions are on the rise toward contenders.