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Monday open thread: Will the Detroit Lions make a splash signing in free agency?

Will the Detroit Lions try to secure themselves a top free agent this offseason?

Buffalo Bills v Detroit Lions Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Pulling out the checkbook isn’t always a recipe for success, but at the very least, it will get people talking during the offseason. Will the Detroit Lions be willing to pay for a big name in free agency?

A few weeks ago, I mentioned some potential free agent targets for the Lions of various expenses. Low-cost free agents can become critical parts of a roster, either as depth pieces or breakthrough starters. The Lions have been fairly quiet during previous offseasons, relying on buy-low candidates—to great success as well. Of the free agent signings made by general manager Brad Holmes, perhaps only DJ Chark counts as a splash signing. Depending on your opinion on Chark’s 2022 season, it may or may not be a flop of a signing.

With the Lions making strides last season, it suddenly puts the competitive landscape into question. Are the Lions a few key additions away from being playoff contenders? And if so, are the Lions willing to acquire said players via expensive free agent contracts? The Lions have done well to build up their talent via the draft, but an extra star or two could be the push they need. With news surfacing that the Lions were pursuing cornerback Jalen Ramsey, it shows that Holmes and company were not afraid to make a franchise-altering move.

Dreams are cheap, however, and reality often presents a more complicated situation. For one, there are 31 other teams potentially bidding for a player’s services—that alone can drive up the price. Also, many top-tier players look to one-up the players at their same position. If a top 10 wide receiver gets $18 million annual contract, the next prized wide receiver to hit free agency will look for a similar contract—or, more likely, an even higher amount. Deshaun Watson’s fully guaranteed contract with the Cleveland Browns is threatening to shake up the quarterback market as we know. One ludicrous contract can change the entire NFL, for better or worse.

The Lions will be heavily involved this offseason. Whether that means spending big, spending economical, or a mix of the two remains to be seen.

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Will the Detroit Lions make a splash signing in free agency?

My answer: I don’t think they will.

This will obviously depend on your definition of a “splash” signing, but to me, it means signing someone that is a Day 1 starter and obvious upgrade over the previous starter. Two names that sit atop my expensive wishlist are Jamel Dean and Tremaine Edmunds. Dean would instantly becoming the Lions’ top corner, solidifying a much-needed and critical position on defense. Not to be outdone, Edmunds would give the Lions a true star at linebacker, something that has been missing for a long time in Detroit.

That being said, the salary cap always complicates the issue. While the idea of throwing a lot of money at Dean or Edmunds (or both) sounds great on paper, you need it to fit within the cap. This could be managed with a back-loaded contract or voided years (like Chark’s deal), but the Lions don’t have unlimited wiggle room to splurge on free agents. Read Erik Schlitt’s breakdown of the salary cap for a closer look on where the Lions’ stand, but the gist of it is that between re-signings and rookies, the Lions might not be in the market for a high-profile free agent.

What I think is more likely is targeting multiple mid-tier starters with high ceilings. DeShon Elliott and Mike Hughes last offseason were examples of this strategy, albeit to mixed results. Players like Drue Tranquill, Alex Singleton, Greg Gaines, or Sean Murphy-Bunting might not break the bank, but such moves would give the Lions starters with potential.

For all the good that happened last season, I still think the Lions have too many holes to spend a significant amount on a splash signing. If the Lions can manage to make it a team-friendly deal, however, I am all for it.

The Lions need more top-end talent—I just hope they can work some salary magic to make it happen. Until it does, I’m keeping an eye out for the smaller signings. Come September or December, they may prove just as important.

Your turn.


Will the Detroit Lions make a splash signing in free agency?

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