Free agency last year was pretty uneventful for the Detroit Lions. With very little cap space to work with and almost every starter set to return, the Lions didn't go out and make any real notable signings. They focused more on retaining their own players rather than making a splash in free agency, and although this strategy clearly didn't work out based on how last season went, it made sense at the time given their situation.
This year, Lions want to be more active in free agency, and general manager Martin Mayhew said on Thursday that the team is planning to be a "bigger player" when it comes to signing free agents. He's well aware that changes need to be made, and that is why the Lions are planning to go in a different direction this year. From the Lions' official site:
"We need to make some changes," Mayhew said. "Obviously, things aren't going in the right direction. I don't think they went in the right direction last year. We've got to make some changes and have to improve our roster, and we'll definitely make some moves in that direction."
Even after releasing a few players this week the Lions are dealing with a limited amount of cap room. However, the Lions can free up even more room before free agency opens by releasing more players, restructuring contracts and getting certain players new deals. These types of things will give the Lions flexibility from a salary cap standpoint and the ability to truly be a player in free agency.