The Detroit Lions have stuck to their guns through the first two years under coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes. When it comes to free agency, their philosophy has clearly been focused on retaining their own players and being extremely modest and selective in bringing new players to the team. Culture fit has been one of their primary focuses in free agency.
“I told you guys at the end of the season, we’ll always be selective and strategic in free agency, and you’ve gotta be really careful in free agency,” Holmes said at Wednesday’s NFL Combine press conference. “But when I said that, it’s all about still finding the right guys. It’s not about how much money you have to spend. Regardless of how many resources, always being selective and strategic in that process.”
There has been some belief that the Lions may alter that strategy this offseason. Not only does the team have more wiggle room in salary cap after shedding some poor contracts from the previous regime, but they’re also in a much better place organizationally. They’ve got fewer team needs, and many believe their playoff and championship window is opening up.
We often see those teams get very aggressive in acquiring blue-chip players via trades and free agency. It’s why many believe the Lions could go after someone like Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey via a trade.
But Campbell more or less squashed those hopes when he stepped up to the podium on Wednesday.
“Yeah, we’ve got a little more to play with, we have a little more wiggle room, but it’s like, man... let’s not lose sight of—let’s just get better,” Campbell said. “Forget, ‘Well, man, can we acquire this (blue-chip player)?’ Let’s just find a guy that can serve a certain type of role for us. He’s somebody (who) has maybe played some ball, he can start at a certain position for us.
“But we don’t need to acquire these high-level, you’re paying the most for these guys because they’re rated the No. 1 guy in free agency at that position. We just need to get better. Let’s just get better at areas we need to get better at and focus on that. I think that’s always been the focus.”
There’s not a lot of wiggle room in that response. Campbell—as he usually is—was very straightforward. They don’t have an interest in spending a ton of resources on individual, highly-ranked players. They are far more focused on fit and need.
So if you thought the Lions may go on a shopping spree this free agency, it’s time to temper expectations.