Analyst Gives Lions Exciting Offseason Grade: ‘Nobody Has Done Better’

Brad Holmes Rod Wood

Getty Brad Holmes and Rod Wood mix it up during Lions training camp in July 2021.

The Detroit Lions have done a nice job to address their needs this offseason, and as a result of what the team has done, some grades are coming in.

Already, the Lions have picked up high marks, but it seems the best of the best has come from Sports Illustrated, who proved recently just how much they appreciate Detroit’s offseason moves.

Writer Matt Verderame recently took a look at grading every free agency performance in the NFC for 2023. In terms of the Lions, no team received a higher score than Detroit. Verderame gave the Lions a perfect A+ grade, and made a bold statement that nobody has handled free agency better in the league.

“Nobody has done a better job than the Lions to this point. Detroit ranked 32nd in yards per play against last year, and general manager Brad Holmes went to work, bringing in a trio of quality pieces for the secondary. The Lions also replaced Williams with Montgomery, maintaining a good backfield. And they did all of this without tying up much cap space in future years,” he wrote in the piece.

The mark ended up being the highest grade in the piece for the NFC. No other team earned an A+ for their free agency approach. The Atlanta Falcons earned an ‘A’ grade, while the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers each earned A- scores for their work this year. Otherwise, the marks were scattered between the C and B range across the division.

Those marks point to the Lions perhaps being able to take advantage of what everyone else hasn’t done and use it to their future advantage in the conference. Detroit has some optimism for the season, and it isn’t just because of what they have done overall. Other teams may not be poised to take advantage of a wide-open conference.

Detroit’s work is a significant step forward for the Lions, who haven’t been elite in the past during the offseason. This could mark a notable change with regards to that line of thinking.

PFF Also Gives Lions High Free Agency Grade

It wasn’t just Sports Illustrated that has been praising Detroit’s approach so far this offseason. Pro Football Focus took a look at grading some of the team’s early work, and is clearly just as wowed by what the Lions have achieved.

The site recently graded the work of all teams during free agency, and when it came to Detroit, the results were very good. The Lions received an A- for their work in the 2023 free agency period, and the site was very impressed with many of their deals.

Mostly, PFF appreciated Detroit landing cornerback Cameron Sutton, a player they have been impressed with in terms of his ability to be stingy in defense.

“The Lions needed to find an outside cornerback in free agency this offseason, and Sutton provides exactly that. Pittsburgh played man coverage at about the same rate as Detroit did in 2022, and so the schematic fit makes sense for both sides,” they wrote.

The site also liked the Lions keeping linebacker Alex Anzalone, as well as bringing cornerback Emmanuel Moseley into the mix to fortify their needy defensive backfield further.

As a whole, there’s reason to love what the Lions have done. The team has been smart about the deals they have invested in, while also fortifying needs and strengthening positions on the roster.

Lions Deserve High Free Agency Grades

Is a perfect A+ grade fair for the Lions in free agency? While the mark is certainly high and pretty flawless, it does feel as if the Lions have aced free agency as a whole this year.

In past years, the Lions have leaned on bringing back internal free agents first. That’s been an approach that has paid off for them, and could be expected to do so again. All of Anzalone, Isaiah Buggs and John Cominsky represented must-retain free agents in Detroit. Each one of them returned.

With regard to the players coming in from the outside, Sutton seems like a big score for the team’s defensive backfield, and a guy primed to play lots of different roles for the Lions this season. Moseley seems like a quality gamble on a one-year deal, and David Montgomery and Graham Glasgow will help Detroit’s offense remain very tough. The same can be said for wideout Marvin Jones.

Detroit’s best move may have come when they signed C.J. Gardner-Johnson as a free agent, though, relative to what he provides the defense.

If there’s anything that could hold the score back a bit, it is likely the fact that the Lions have not made an upgrade at linebacker or defensive line from the outside, or tight end. It’s important to remember those players could be found in a deep draft, so fans should be patient.

Still, the team has certainly earned the perfect grades they have received thus far in free agency.

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