The Detroit Lions 2023 offseason is mostly in the books. I’m sure they’ll grab a guy in free agency here and there, but beyond the possibility of some major move like the Lions trading for Quinnen Williams, the Lions are probably done. With that in mind, let’s break it all down and grade how the Lions did.
The Lions did a lot better in player retention in 2022 than they did this year. Some of that is likely by design. They’re ready to take the next step. I don’t think the Lions minded much that Jamaal Williams or Amani Oruwariye left town. Moves like that felt deliberate.
Where it felt like they left money on the table was when they lost DJ Chark to Carolina and DeShon Elliott to the Dolphins. And while the Jamaal Williams move felt deliberate and the team did upgrade, it’s hard to see the team lose what felt like their heart and soul on offense. C.J. Moore was a great special teams player. He was retained before the gambling suspension, but now he’s gone. These losses hurt. Maybe not a lot, but enough.
That said, there were some key players brought back, including John Cominsky, Alex Anzalone and Isaiah Buggs. They also were able to retain Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Romeo Okwara and Charles Harris and even get them to all to take a pay cut. Those retentions are going to move the grade up, but I still have to grade a little lower here. But not too low.
The Lions scored big in this department. Last year I gave them a C because it felt like they did nothing. This year they did the exact opposite.
The Lions completely rebuilt their secondary by bringing in Cameron Sutton, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Emmanuel Moseley. The also beefed up in some other areas by bringing back familiar faces in Marvin Jones Jr., Graham Glasgow, and Jalen Reeves-Maybin. Lastly they upgraded at running back after the loss of Jamaal Williams when they signed David Montgomery.
We’ve been waiting for the Lions to go out and take swings since this regime started and they definitely did that this offseason. I have to grade high here because, at least on paper, the Lions knocked it out of the park.
The Lions managed to keep both coordinators and that’s huge. The retention of Ben Johnson is the big one. This team came very close to having to figure out how to replace their big star coordinator before they decided to entice him to stay by giving him a big raise.
It seemed like all would be right with the world and then the coaching staff took two big blows when running backs coach and assistant head coach Duce Staley and defensive line coach Todd Wash both left town to be on the Panthers coaching staff. They nearly lost Staley’s replacement about five minutes after hiring him when Scottie Montgomery interviewed for the Buccaneers offensive coordinator job.
The retentions are big, but the losses are too. I have to take that into account with this grade.
What a draft class the Lions had. At first it seemed totally out of place, but everyday we learn more about it—and how other teams valued their picks—and it seems more rational than it felt on draft night. Other teams planned to draft the guys the Lions wanted and they got their guys before anyone else could. You can't hate that all.
The additions of Jahmyr Gibbs, Jack Campbell, and Sam LaPorta were huge. All of this guys are going to come in and contribute right away—not just contribute as guys that will play a little here and there, but guys that will contribute as starters. Brian Branch will likely be a starter in Year 2.
While I love that first half of the draft class for the Lions, I feel like they missed a lot in the second half. Don’t get me wrong, I think Colby Sorsdal and Brodric Martin could be steals when all is said and done, but for now it seems like they could have tried for better options for both positions.
Then there’s Hendon Hooker. I’m not as high on this pick as a lot of other people are. It just feels like the Lions drafted a career backup quarterback in the third round when adding a defensive tackle or a guard with that pick would have probably been more beneficial. I hope that if Hooker eventually becomes more than a backup, he becomes a really good starter and this will all be worth it. Until then I just feel liek they drafted the wrong guy.
Not a whole lot going on here. Last year the Lions got “Hard Knocks” and the announcement that the 2024 NFL Draft is coming to Detroit. There’s nothing major like that this offseason.
Perhaps the biggest thing is that the Lions updated their field this offseason. Maybe that will help prevent players from getting rubber pellets in their eyes. Remember that time that happened to Matthew Stafford? Eww. More importantly, though, let’s hope it seriously reduces injuries, since the NFLPA believes their old turf was among the most unsafe conditions in the league.
The Lions hired a new head trainer this offseason when they brought in Mike Sundeen. He comes in with a decades worth of experience as a trainer in the NFL. That’s good for team that’s suffered a lot of injuries.
The other thing is that the NFL took a big liking to the Lions this offseason and now the team will be playing five nationally televised games in 2023, including the very first game of the 2023 NFL season. That’s a huge moment for this team.
Overall there’s not much to be upset about, just a few things here and there. The Lions have otherwise had a really good offseason. They have done enough to make sure that they can compete next year and while they did have some personnel losses, they made sure they made up for those losses. Last year I gave the Lions an A- offseason grade, this year I’m sticking with that A- Grade.