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.
UPDATE 1: The Lions signed 9 players to futures contracts
UPDATE 2: The Lions release 6 players from the practice squad
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.
- Free agent profile: The Tim Boyle experiment did not work out
- Update: Lions re-sign Boyle on a 1-year, $2 million deal, Contract details
- RFA profile: Does David Blough’s value in QB room warrant a re-signing?
- Update: Lions re-sign Blough
With Igwebuike an ERFA—meaning he can only accept a contract offer from the Lions in 2022, unless they allow him 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.
- Free Agent profile: What would Josh Reynolds’ role look like in 2022?
- Update: Josh Reynolds re-signed with Lions, on a two-year contract
- Free Agent profile: KhaDarel Hodge’s special teams value could earn re-signing
- Free agent profile: With opportunity, Kalif Raymond proved in a pinch he belongs
- Update: Raymond re-signs with Lions on 2-year deal
- Lions extend ERFA tender to WR Tom Kennedy
- Lions sign DJ Chark to a 1-year contract, voided years make for a lighter cap hit in 2022
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.
- Lions sign TE Matt Sokol to a reserve/futures contract.
- Lions sign TE Jordan Thomas to a reserve/futures contract
- Lions re-sign Superback Jason Cabinda to a two-year contract
- Lions extend ERFA tender to TE Brock Wright
- Lions sign Garrett Griffen from the New Orleans Saints
- Jordan Thomas, signed in January, was released in March with a non-football injury (per Aaron Wilson)
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.
- RFA Profile: Retaining Evan Brown may be tough
- Update: Lions re-sign Evan Brown on a 1-year contract, Contract details
- Lions extend ERFA tender to IOL Tommy Kraemer
- Lions re-sign center Ryan McCollum
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.
- Free Agent profile: Is Nick Williams worth bringing back in 2022?
- Free Agent profile: Will the Lions give Joel Heath another shot?
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.
- Free agent profile: How much of a raise did Charles Harris earn?
- Update: Lions re-sign Harris to a 2-year contract
- Trey Flowers released, freeing up $10.4 million in salary cap space
- Lions extend ERFA tender to EDGE Jesse Lemonier
- Lions re-sign EDGE Rashod Berry
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.
- Lions re-sign LB Josh Woods
- Free agent profile: Did Alex Anzalone earn a second contract in Detroit?
- Update: Lions re-sign Anzalone on a 1-year deal, Contract details
- Free agent profile: Is Jalen Reeves-Maybin the linebacker Detroit wants to invest in?
- Update: Reeves-Maybin signed a 2-year deal with the Texans
- Free agent profile: Shaun Dion Hamilton deserves another look
- Update: Lions re-sign Hamilton on a 1-year deal
- Lions extend ERFA tender to LB Anthony Pittman
- Lions signed LB Chris Board, formerly of the Ravens
- Lions re-sign Jarrad Davis, who played with the Jets last season
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.
- Lions extend ERFA tenders to CBs Bobby Price and Mark Gilbert
- Lions sign CB Mike Hughes to a 1-year contract, formerly of the Chiefs
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.
- Lions claim JuJu Hughes off waivers from the Rams
- Update: Lions extend ERFA tender to Hughes
- Free Agent Profile: Tracy Walker should be a priority to re-sign
- Update: Lions re-sign Tracy Walker on a 3-year deal, Contract details
- Free Agent Profile: Do the Lions still need veteran depth like Dean Marlowe?
- Restricted free agent profile: C.J. Moore is too valuable on special teams to let walk
- Update: Lions re-sign C.J. Moore to a 1-year contract, Contract details
- Update: Lions re-sign Jalen Elliott on a 1-year deal
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.
- Lions sign Aldric Rosas to a reserve/futures contract
- ERFA profile: Jack Fox still shines in a “down” year
- ERFA profile: Is Scott Daly the long-term solution at long snapper?
- Update: Lions extend ERFA tenders to Fox, Daly, and Kicker Riley Patterson