The Detroit Lions have some decisions to make in terms of free agency, but the good news is the market hasn’t even begun to shape up completely as of yet.
With time will come cuts and releases, and as that happens, some position groups will see major additions on the free agency market. One spot the Lions will be watching closely is cornerback.
Detroit has a major defensive need there, and as a result, could look to make a few additions to their roster this offseason. What if an elite cornerback was to get released? In that situation, the Lions could find a fantastic value and pounce.
Recently, Bleacher Report and writer Alex Kay took a look at naming the top potential cap casualties that could become steals for their new NFL teams. Detroit was mentioned as a potential ideal destination for Shaquill Griffin should the Jacksonville Jaguars send him packing.
Along with Minnesota and Tampa Bay, Griffin was called a potential ideal addition for the Lions. As Kay pointed out, Griffin has has some troubles, but could have good seasons left at 27 years old if he finds health and the right fit.
“While he has missed time in each of the last four seasons, he has been a consistently strong cover man when he is on the field. A third-round pick by the Seattle Seahawks in 2017, Griffin quickly ascended to a starting job early in his career and may still have quite a few prime years left if he can stay healthy,” Kay wrote in the piece.
The Lions have a major need at cornerback, so any former Pro Bowl player with youth on their side that gets cut could be sure to draw interest in the weeks ahead.
Lions’ Cornerback Room Needs Upgrades
Why prioritize the cornerback spot this offseason in free agency? Detroit’s secondary was arguably the worst group on the team’s defense this year, and they have the statistics to prove it.
Detroit finished 30th in pass defense, allowing 26 touchdowns and over 245 yards per-game on average. Worse, they allowed a total of 4,179 yards through the air. That points to a group that simply didn’t it done. Cornerback was perhaps the spot that represented these problems the most.
Jeff Okudah, who posted 73 tackles and one interception was the most consistent player of the group, and by the end of the season, he was struggling to find consistency as well. The Lions have solid pieces like Jerry Jacobs, but not nearly enough depth at the position, which proved itself to be the case most of the year.
Free agent Amani Oruwariye figures to be on the outs after a very tough season in 2022, and Mike Hughes may not have done enough to stick around as a must re-sign player. That could lead the Lions to prioritize the spot heavy in the draft as well as free agency.
Getting some veterans along with a few more young bodies could be the key toward helping the Lions turn things around in 2023. Early on, it seems as if the draft and impending free agent market is going to fit the Lions and their needs in the defensive backfield in a big way.
Griffin’s Career Stats & Highlights
As pointed out in the Bleacher Report piece, Griffin has enjoyed some success in the NFL before signing as a free agent with the Jaguars, which could lend itself to the notion that he could get back to a high level.
Specifically, Griffin was selected by the Seattle Seahawks as a third-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft. From there, he went on to have a fantastic 2019 season culminating in a Pro Bowl selection. That year, Griffin posted 62 tackles, two interceptions and eight passes defended.
In total, Griffin has posted 327 tackles, six interceptions, one sack, one forced fumble and 59 passes defended. He’s made some big plays in the second level in the league at cornerback.
Griffin could find a home in Detroit if he does end up getting cut as a quality reclamation project. For that reason, it will be important for fans to watch the market in the coming weeks to see how it evolves.