The Detroit Lions are entering a critical part of their rebuild.
The 2022 offseason will be a prime opportunity for the Lions to acquire much-needed talent. The Lions have many needs that warrant addressing, and there is no sure-fire way to fix the roster. Not only will general manager Brad Holmes need to be savvy with his spending, but he will need to find more hidden gems like Charles Harris.
Whiffing on a free agent deal is never a good thing, but it is often their contract that hinders a team more than their actual on-field play. A prime example of this is Trey Flowers. Signed as a prized free agent, his first two seasons in Detroit were largely successful. He was often one of the team’s best defenders. However, a dip in production in 2021 now renders his contract difficult to swallow. Is Flowers worth having on an NFL roster? I’d say so. Is it worth having on an NFL roster at that price? Probably not.
With decent salary cap space to work with, many will pine for a big-name signing. Given their lack of impact players, this is well within reason. If it weren’t for the late season surge of Amon-Ra St. Brown, the wide receiver group would have been a disaster. The linebackers were a problem all season, and the failure of another former prized free agent—Jamie Collins—didn’t help. The safety group, meanwhile, enters the offseason with their top three spots open. With Tracy Walker and Dean Marlowe being unrestricted free agents and Will Harris struggling, the Lions may end up revamping the entire starting lineup.
It made sense last offseason to spend lightly in free agency. This year, however, is a different tale. With so many needs and so many free agents, who do you want the Lions to target most of all?
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Who is your top free agent target for the Lions?
My answer: Marcus Williams is my top free agent.
This is far from original, but it’s hard to argue the fit. Not only is safety a major concern for the Lions, but Williams also has familiarity with the coaching staff. Familiarity is not only important for scheme fit, but also choosing a team in the first place. Players have raved about Aaron Glenn as a coach, and Williams may be drawn to Detroit if the price tag is suitable.
If the Lions could sign Marcus Williams and re-sign Tracy Walker, the secondary suddenly looks promising. That could be expensive, however, and may result in some contract restructuring and cap casualties. Williams and Walker might combine for $30 million in annual salary, but the Lions would likely push some of that money towards the end of the deal.
Wide receiver Chris Godwin is probably my next priority free agent, but there are many questions regarding his situation. With Tom Brady no longer with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he may wish to pair himself with a better quarterback. If they cannot strike a deal, the Buccaneers could franchise tag him again, albeit at an inflated cost of $19 million.
Should he hit the market, there would be no shortage of suitors, despite his torn ACL. Unfortunately for the Lions, they may not be a desirable destination. As seen with Odell Beckham Jr., a prolific passing attack can change a wide receiver’s fortunes. Jared Goff is far from a dangerous quarterback, and Godwin may opt for a team closer to making a Super Bowl run. If the Lions want Godwin, they will have to make an impressive sales pitch—and a lot of money helps too.
Overall, I think Marcus Williams sits atop my free agent wish list by a fairly wide margin. There is likely to be mutual interest, and it fills a major need. The Lions won’t be able to sign everyone I’m hoping for, but Williams would be my first priority.