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The Detroit Lions will host their rookie minicamp next weekend, from May 14 through 16. If the team finds some tryout players or camp invites they like, they’re going to need some room on the roster to sign them.
Detroit had 78 players under contract entering last weekend’s draft. The Lions then made eight picks in the 2022 NFL draft, pushing the committed roster spots to 86 of the 90-man limit. Shortly after the draft, the Lions inked four undrafted rookies to contracts worth at least $100,000.
That’s the 90-man roster. For now…
One of the focuses of the early offseason from GM Brad Holmes and his front office was bringing back a flurry of returning players. Some are safely on the roster. Guys like S Tracy Walker, QB Tim Boyle, WR Josh Reynolds, LB Alex Anzalone, reserve offensive lineman Evan Brown and EDGE Charles Harris aren’t going anywhere. But several other players brought back from 2021 could be ex-Lions sooner than later.
Prominent amongst that group are the exclusive rights free agents and players earning the league minimum who haven’t established themselves on the depth chart. Those players are in real danger of being pushed off the team in favor of undrafted rookies or young players looking to make a name in the upcoming rookie minicamp and offseason activities.
Some of those players saw the Lions draft players who slot in above them on the depth chart. Adding Aidan Hutchinson in the first round and Zach Paschal in the second makes it tough for depth defensive linemen like Jessie Lemonier and Rashod Berry to stick around.
The most likely cuts come at linebacker. There are 10 off-ball linebackers on the team after drafting Malcolm Rodriguez and James Houston (who might also play EDGE). For a team that will have just one or two on the field most of the time, that’s untenable roster clutter.
The LBs on the spot: Jarrad Davis, Anthony Pittman, Tavante Beckett and Josh Woods. And it might not be an undrafted or tryout LB to push them off. The team is much thinner on the offensive line and in the secondary.
Another place where the Lions have more players than they could ever use is at kicker. There are three — Riley Patterson, Austin Seibert and Aldrick Rosas. It’s hard to see the team carry more than two of those into the mandatory minicamp in June.