Advertisement

Ranking the Lions offseason needs for 2024


It’s officially the offseason for the Detroit Lions after the disspiriting loss to the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. The offseason focus is on how to take the next step to potentially host that NFC title game after the 2024 season and win it, too.

The Lions will look different in 2024. All teams suffer some roster turnover, and the Lions are no different. Detroit has 19 unrestricted free agents who are coming off the roster, as well as some who are under contract but might not make the cut into the next year, for either performance or salary purposes.

What do the Lions need to make that next step? Here’s an early look at the biggest needs in free agency and the 2024 NFL draft.

 

Outside cornerback

Already a big on-field weakness, the Lions are set to lose starter Kindle Vildor to free agency. Last year’s free agent addition, Emmanuel Moseley, is also an unrestricted free agent coming off his injuries.

Ideally, the Lions need at least two new outside corners to the top three on the depth chart. If 2023 No. 1 CB Cam Sutton kicks into the slot, that number goes up to three unless the Lions are confident in a bounce back from deposed starter Jerry Jacobs.

Offensive guard

Both 2023 starters, Graham Glasgow and Jonah Jackson, are unrestricted free agents. So is Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who started over Glasgow before a season-ending injury. Even if one of those re-signs, that leaves either Kayode Awosika or Colby Sorsdal starting right now–and they’re the only depth on the roster, too.

Defensive end/EDGE

One side is set with Aidan Hutchinson. The spot on the other side of the defense, not so much.

Josh Paschal made nice progress — when healthy — in his second season. James Houston is a wild card after missing all but two games after a stellar rookie season. They’re certainly in the mix, as is John Cominsky.

Right now, none of those guys have proven full-time starter-worthy. Adding a higher-end potential starter would better reorder the depth chart. Vets Romeo Okwara and Charles Harris are unrestricted free agency.

Offensive tackle

The Lions are in great shape with Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker as the starters. But if Colby Sorsdal continues to transition inside to guard, the starters are literally the only tackles on the roster.

Matt Nelson, who missed 2023 with injury, is an unrestricted free agent. So is Dan Skipper, one of the best “extra” linemen in the league. Detroit desperately needs depth here, especially considering how the offense is built around having a great O-line.

Defensive tackle

The good news: everyone who played in the playoffs will be back except vet Tyson Alualu. The bad news: everyone who played in the playoffs will be back.

Detroit needs to add someone to play with, and occasionally in place of, Alim McNeill as an interior pass rusher. McNeill took a big step in 2023 but he needs help. The Lions do have 2023 third-round pick Brodric Martin, but he was a healthy scratch almost all year and his progress is uncertain.

Note that this need potentially climbs the list if Aaron Glenn is no longer the team’s defensive coordinator. If AG is back, the team probably sees nose tackle as a bigger issue than a 3-tech.

Wide receiver

The top two wideouts are back in Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams. Kalif Raymond will be too, as will little-used 2023 rookie Antoine Green.

Josh Reynolds and Donovan Peoples-Jones are both unrestricted free agents. Based on targets, Reynolds was the No. 2 receiver. Someone to fill that role in the offense–and it could be Reynolds returning–is needed, as is overall depth.

Kicker

Michael Badgley is an unrestricted free agent. He was the second kicker the Lions used during the season a year after Detroit burned through three of them. A long-term solution would be nice.

Coverage-oriented safety

This is another spot where the solution might be on the roster. If the Lions opt to move Brian Branch to a full-time safety role, they’re fine here with the dynamic 2023 rookie and Kerby Joseph.

If Joseph is the top dog, then adding another safety who is comfortable playing deep-ramge coverage from a single-high set is more of a need.  With Tracy Walker a likely cap casualty and C.J. Gardner-Johnson a free agent, Detroit needs another. Ifeatu Melifonwu is much more of a box safety and blitzer, not a coverage asset.

Story originally appeared on Lions Wire