The Lions have been a model of consistency in the NFL, but that has changed recently with their decline in performance following free agency. The team’s average ranking on last year’s index dropped from 20th to 23rd and they are currently 24th after two weeks of the 2018 season.
Getty Brad Holmes talks during the NFL combine in 2022.
In the early part of the 2022 offseason, the Detroit Lions have been seeking to strengthen their roster, and the organization has decided to stay with bringing back its own free players rather than making a lot of major splashes.
The Lions have only signed two outside free agents, wide receiver DJ Chark and tight end Garrett Griffin, thus far. The changes haven’t resulted in a significant change in the Lions’ future prospects, nor have they turned the scales in their favor in terms of potential victories in 2022.
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The narrative around the league has turned from huge spending to bargain deals that might help round out teams since the start of the free agency frenzy. The attention has also moved to whether or not clubs have improved in terms of win metrics as a result of their transfers. Pro Football Focus has looked into it more, and there hasn’t been much progress in the Lions’ situation.
In preparation for the 2022 season, writer Kevin Cole took a short look at some of the clubs and their progress indices. There was very little movement when it came to the Lions. With a –0.02 WAR change and a -0.46 improvement in the roster, Detroit has remained in a neutral position. This places them in the league’s lower-middle tier. What is the story’s moral? In terms of stats, the Lions haven’t strengthened their squad all that much in free agency thus far.
In the second wave of free agency, Detroit can find some cheaper bargains for veterans on prove-it contracts. It worked well for them in 2021, and they’ll need to apply it again to offer themselves a chance to improve.
The draft is, of course, the most obvious avenue for the Lions to improve. Perhaps that will be the team’s emphasis over the next month as they consider how to improve their roster and go ahead.
So Far, the Lions’ Free Agency Moves
The Lions have opted not to take any big swings in free agency thus far. Instead, the squad has been able to focus on retaining its own players. The Lions’ first move was to re-sign wide receiver Josh Reynolds, who was quite effective last season in a short amount of time with the team, racking up 306 yards and two scores. Following that, the squad decided to re-sign safety Tracy Walker, who was a major component of the defense in 2021 and can serve as a foundation for the team. Detroit has also re-signed pass rusher Charles Harris, who led the league with 7.5 sacks last season, and wide receiver Kalif Raymond, who had four touchdown receptions. The Lions then signed wide receiver DJ Chark in unrestricted free agency, and he should help the team’s offense and lineup. Garrett Griffin, a tight end, was also signed by the Lions, although he isn’t a big-ticket item.
The Lions have taken a cautious approach to free agency so far, but value acquisitions might emerge if player prices fall.
How the Lions Can Still Improve Their Roster for 2022
While the Lions have concentrated on bringing back important players from their roster in order to strengthen the core, there are still some huge issues. The most pressing need on defense, where Detroit could use a linebacker and defensive lineman, remains. A club that lacks depth on the back end may also need a cornerback. On offense, Detroit’s wideout corps struggled in 2021 due to a lack of depth, but the acquisition of Chark and the re-signing of Raymond and Reynolds will greatly assist Jared Goff. If there was one thing the club could do to improve the roster, it would be to shop for defensive remedies. While the major names are no longer available, there are a few good bargains that might help the Lions. Linebacker Bobby Wagner, safety Tyrann Mathieu, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, cornerback Bryce Callahan, and others might be defensive solutions who contribute significantly to the team’s success.
The Lions are far from complete, and some believe the organization has not done enough to enhance the squad in a manner that will result in victories in 2022.
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