The Detroit Lions’ free agency period didn’t catch a lot of national eyes, and for good reason. The majority of their money was spent on their own free agents, with only five outside players getting new deals in Detroit—and every single one of them was a one-year contract.
Locally, the strategy was met with mixed reactions. Some were eager to see the Lions get a little more aggressive in the offseason, especially after Lions general manager Brad Holmes called this point in the rebuild the “player acquisition” phase. Others understood and respected the modest approach, understanding that the Lions’ strategy is to build through the draft and reward players who responded to coaching and matched their culture.
One writer saw it that way, too. Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton graded every team’s offseason thus far, and his analysis of the Lions was surprisingly dead-on for a national analyst. Wharton gave the Lions a B—the second-highest grade of any other NFC team, only behind the Buccaneers—and said he respected that Detroit knew where their roster was at in the rebuild.
“Knowing the state of your roster and realistic ability to get better in free agency goes a long way toward winning the offseason,” Wharton wrote. “Winning free agency is relative, and for Detroit, it needed to make calculated investments without splurging on shiny names who are unlikely to push the team over the top. The organization accomplished this goal.”
Wharton goes on to say that the re-signings of Charles Harris and Tracy Walker—both on widely-considered affordable deals—was “an impressive feat considering how each developed under this staff in 2021.”
It’s worth noting that only the only other NFC North team that came out with a favorable grade from Wharton was the Minnesota Vikings. They received a B, while the Packers and Bears got a C- and F, respectively. You can read all of Wharton’s analyses here.
- More pre-draft visits from big names:
Sources: Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson is visiting the Giants in Jersey tomorrow, and will visit the Jets on Friday. Seems unlikely he'll get to either team, at 4 or 5, but they're doing their homework.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 12, 2022
Hutchinson already visited the Jags, and is set to visit the Lions next week.
Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton has a visit later this week with the #Lions, source said.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 12, 2022
Detroit owns the No. 2 overall pick. That makes five teams in the top 10 on the visit list for Hamilton, one of the draft’s top prospects.
#Illinois S Kerby Joseph (6-1, 203) has completed Top 30 Visits with the #Vikings, #Bears, #Colts and #Bucs per source. He'll visit the #Jags and #Lions next.— Justin M (@JustinM_NFL) April 13, 2022
A TON of interest in an ascending safety that took a big step forward while recording 5 INTs this past season.
- Our friend Diante Lee—who you may remember from our podcast last week—had another great article talking about the top linebackers in this year’s draft and the value of the position in today’s NFL.
- Could Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner be in play for the Lions at the second overall pick? Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah debated the topic here:
On the latest @MoveTheSticks podcast, DJ & @BuckyBrooks rebuild the @Lions through the draft. Full episode— NFL Podcasts (@NFL_Podcasts) April 11, 2022
SPOTIFY: https://t.co/XcU8JdWali pic.twitter.com/pLzyjclqtH
- Dave Birkett has an interesting story on Eastern Michigan NFL hopeful Thomas Odukoya, who says he’s also a “kneecap guy.” Birkett also has a nice list of some of the players who came to Detroit’s local pro day at the bottom of the article.
- This may be the first time in Pride of Detroit history that we’ve embedded a Tiktok, but here’s a neat history on the Lions helmets.
Reply to @ordinary_sausage The Lions helmet history. #detroitlions #hookedonhelmets♬ original sound - hookedonhelmets
- Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean said on a podcast this week that the Lions were his only top-30 pre-draft visit as of now. MLive’s Kyle Meinke has more.