The Detroit Lions 2021 season is over and that means we’re on to the 2022 offseason.
In order to better understand what approach the Lions might take at certain positions or with specific players, it’s beneficial to be able to see both macro and micro perspectives in their roster construction.
The goal of this piece is to be able to give readers a broad overview of what the roster looks like, as well as the contract details for each of the 88 players that were with the organization at the end of the season. Each section will feature a different position group, with the starters will be bolded, along with several “key terms” designed to help clarify their situations.
- UFA: Unrestricted Free Agents can sign with any team during the free agency period beginning in March.
- RFA: Restricted Free Agents rights are held by Lions. If an RFA receives a contract from another team, the Lions can match the offer or potentially receive draft compensation for allowing the player to leave.
- ERFA: Exclusive Rights Free Agents are only allowed to negotiate contracts with the Lions unless Detroit chooses to let them explore free agency.
- SFA: Street Free Agents are players who were under contract with an NFL team in 2021, but not on an active roster at the season’s end. They are free to sign with any team immediately. The most common SFAs are players on NFL practice squads.
- 2022 Cap Hit: How much a player counts against the team’s 2022 salary cap.
- Guarantees remaining: this is the remaining guaranteed money owed to the player over the remainder of his contract, not just 2022. If the Lions move on from a player with guaranteed money, that amount will count against the Lions cap, even though the player is no longer on the roster—this is often called Dead Cap.
NOTE: This article will be updated throughout the offseason and will include links to relevant articles that POD publishes over the next several months. So be sure to bookmark and keep an eye out for updates.
The Lions won three of their last four games with Goff under center, including victories over the playoff-bound Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals. Expectations are that he will be slinging the rock for the Lions again in 2022. Coaches speak highly of all the reserves, but it’s very up in the air if any will return in 2022.
With Igwebuike an ERFA—meaning he can only accept a contract offer from the Lions in 2022, unless they allow I'm to move on—there is a realistic chance the Lions can enter 2022 with their entire running backs room intact.
The Lions finished the season with several receivers showing promise, but outside of St. Brown, none are capable of taking over a game. That should be an indicator that while several Lions free agents could receive contact offers from Detroit, the organization will surely be looking to add more talent to this position group.
Lots of bodies here but also a lot of questions. Hockenson will likely get his fifth-year option picked up, extending his contract through 2023, and bringing back Wright on an ERFA deal seems like a no-brainer. Cabinda may not get an RFA offer but a contract offer seems appropriate. After that, minimum contracts for depth battles could be handed out to several of the remaining players.
The Lions are in a really favorable position at tackle. Not only do they return both starters, but their top reserve and JUMBO package sixth offensive lineman is an ERFA. Crosby is the real mystery. It sure felt like he was on his way out during training camp, but they kept him around all season and paid his contract in full. A recent surgery seems to suggest there is more to the story here.
Interior offensive line
Like at tackle, the Lions return their entire starting interior and have several top reserves that are restricted. Brown’s status could be the most costly but he has also proven to be a valuable asset.
Interior defensive line
Williams has been a leader on the defensive line, but second-round pick Onwuzurike is waiting in the wings for his shot to start next season. Depth for next season is solid, but the Lions may still look to add some more long-term options for the rotation.
Two big decisions on the edge. Flowers' contract has reached a breaking point, while their most productive player amongst this group, Harris, will be looking for a new contract. With Romeo’s Achillies injury looming, and a potential high draft pick also potentially being added, this group could see some movement this offseason.
The Lions put a lot of band-aids on this position group and it may be the position group that sees the most overhaul. Anzalone and Reeves-Maybin have earned new contracts, but did they do enough to prove they can be every-down starters? This group needs some attention.
If they can return healthy, this group has the potential to be ready to roll. Like at running back, the restricted statuses of the players on the back end of the depth chart could mean this entire group returns next season.
While the corners have the potential to be solid with a little luck in the health department, this part of the Lions' secondary is not as well off. Walker has taken on a leadership role on defense and could be priority No. 1 amongst the Lions free agents, but even if he returns, there is an opportunity to add more talent. Getting Moore back in the fold should low key be a high priority for special teams purposes.
The entire special teams kicking group that the Lions ended the season with are ERFAs. All three should be easily retained, which would set up a kicking competition in training camp between Patterson and Seibert.