The Detroit Lions have been struggling so far during the 2022 season, but the hope is that struggle will soon subside given time and reinforcements.
Help is needed in the future, and while the Lions can’t be guaranteed to right the ship in time for the 2022 season’s finish, they can begin thinking about what steps they must take in the future to ensure a repeat of this season does not play out.
Pro Football Focus writer Marcus Mosher put together an early primer for the offseason, and as he said, the team needs to focus on defense first. Namely, Mosher picked out spots of cornerback, linebacker and defensive line as spots of need given what’s gone on this year.
“Defense. Defense. Defense. The Lions must improve their defense this offseason. Cornerback is their biggest issue despite a bounce-back year for Jeffrey Okudah in which he’s allowed 28 catches on 38 targets with three pass breakups. Detroit could also use help at linebacker. Rookie Malcolm Rodriguez and Alex Anzalone have combined for 11 missed tackles and 42 catches allowed on 49 targets in coverage through Week 9,” Mosher wrote.
Indeed, the team’s offense has moved the ball and been more consistent overall than the defense, so the Lions have to hit those spots hard in the offseason through the draft and free agency if they want to improve.
Mosher seems spot on in his analysis for the Lions. It’s going to take a lot of heavy lifting, but it’s more than possible that the team can get some good fixes coming down the pipe.
Early Lions’ 2023 Offseason Primer
The Lions are going to have a lot to do this offseason, and while this year is not yet finished, it is not too early to begin thinking about what the offseason is going to look like.
As this analysis proved, things are going to have to change, which means some players are going to have to be moved out. It would be easy to see some veterans getting purged such as the likes of Michael Brockers and Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Both those names may have reached the end of the road with the Lions.
As it stands now, the Lions have a top 10 cap space total for 2023 already according to Spotrac, who had the team at around $24 million under the cap next offseason. It could certainly grow with more cuts and trades coming down the pipe, and there’s sure to be action after a frustrating year has played out.
If one thing is clear after watching the team operate, it’s that the defensive side of the ball needs the most help. While the Lions could use a few things on offense, they need way more on defense, and should strive to make some of those fixes moving forward with investments.
Best Potential Free Agents Fitting Lions’ Needs
So when the offseason gets going, which players should the team be zeroing in on in terms of these three areas of need? Fortunately for the team, there’s some great answers as it relates to that.
At cornerback, some of the top names figure to be Bradley Roby of the Saints, Jonathan Joseph of the Patriots and James Bradberry of the Eagles. Cameron Sutton of the Steelers is also slated for free agency. Roby would have a connection with the staff, so it would be interesting to see if he would get the target here.
Linebacker offers some underrated talents in Devin Bush of the Steelers, Anthony Walker of the Browns, Lorenzo Carter of Atlanta and Tremaine Edmunds of Buffalo. Would Bush come back to his Michigan stomping grounds to provide some young playmaking?
Finally, in terms of the defensive tackle spot, Sheldon Rankins of the Jets, DaRon Payne of Washington and Javon Hargrave of the Eagles are slated to be free agents. Payne has long been intriguing for Detroit.
There’s a long way to go until these issues become important, but it’s never too early to begin thinking of who fits the best in a vital and exciting offseason for the Lions.