Lions Connected to ‘Elite Pass Protector’ Coming Off First Pro Bowl Season

Kevin Zeitler

Getty Pro Football Focus' Brad Spielberger named the Detroit Lions a landing spot for right guard Kevin Zeitler.

The Detroit Lions could lose both starting offensive guards in free agency this offseason. But fortunately, there likely will be a lot of quality guards available to sign. Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger named the Lions a potential landing spot for veteran right guard Kevin Zeitler.

He will turn 34 in March, but Zeitler is coming off another elite season in which he earned his first Pro Bowl nomination.

“Zeitler was looking for an extension from the Ravens before the season, but it never came to pass,” Spielberger wrote. “Baltimore has so many key free-agent decisions that perhaps they will prioritize other spots, with both starting guards set to hit the market and some long-term question marks lingering at left tackle.

“Detroit also has both guard spots open heading into 2023, and the veteran Zeitler resembles a great fit as an elite pass protector next to the mauling Penei Sewell.”

According to the Pro Football Focus player grades, Zeitler was the second-best pass blocking guard in the NFL last season.

How Kevin Zeitler Would Fit With the Lions

Age will begin to be a concern with Zeitler soon. However, that could actually work in Detroit’s favor.

PFF described Zeitler as a stalwart even at 34. It’s not hard to see why, as he’s posted back-to-back seasons of a PFF pass-blocking grade above 80 (out of 100).

In his 12-year NFL career, Zeitler has posted a PFF overall player grade worse than 70 just once. During 2023, PFF ranked Zeitler seventh among 21 offensive guards who played at least 80% of his team’s offensive snaps.

Zeitler isn’t a long-term solution, but he’s an appealing option for a team looking for an elite guard for a year or two. That could be the Lions. They will enter 2024 as one of the league’s top Super Bowl contenders.

Additionally, because of his age, Zeitler might not cost as much as some of the other big-named guards available in free agency this year. PFF projected Zeitler’s market value to be $15 million on a 2-year contract. That projection included $9.5 million guaranteed.

According to PFF, if Zeitler reaches free agency, he will be the third-best available offensive guard this offseason.

Will the Lions Lose Both Guards Jonah Jackson & Graham Glasgow?

There are a couple questions regarding the Lions potential interest in Zeitler. General manager Brad Holmes stressed in his post-season press conference on February 5 that the organization is making moves to sustain the success the team experienced in 2023.

Zeitler is a logical fit for 2024. But again, at 34, it’s worth wondering whether the Lions view him as someone who can help “sustain” success.

The other question is whether the Lions will bring back their own starting guards — Jonah Jackson and Graham Glasgow.

Jackson dealt with injuries in 2023, but he was solid again. In 2021, Jackson made the Pro Bowl, and at 27, he can be a long-term solution for the Lions.

Glasgow began the season as a reserve but started 15 games. He experienced perhaps the best season of his career.

PFF ranked Jackson the eighth-best guard set to be available in free agency. But curiously, PFF projected Jackson to be more expensive than Zeitler.

PFF predicted Jackson to be worth $30.75 million, including $16.75 million guaranteed, on a 3-year contract.

As for Glasgow, PFF ranked him the 10th-best guard in 2024 free agency and projected he will receive a 2-year, $6.5 million deal.

If the Lions prefer cheaper guard options to have more money to spend elsewhere, they could sign Zeitler and re-sign Glasgow. But that would give the Lions two starting guards who will be 32 years old at the start of training camp.

However, re-signing Jackson would be more expensive and not necessarily better for 2024.

The good news is Detroit will likely have a few different guard options in free agency. Zeitler will certainly be one of them.

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