DETROIT – The NFL’s negotiation period begins Monday (March 13), and the Detroit Lions have several free agents who will generate interest around the league.
For the first time in decades, the franchise appears to be on the rise. Detroit has a talented young core and exciting players along the offensive and defensive lines, as well as at the offensive skill positions. After an ugly 1-6 start to the 2022 season, they ripped off eight wins in the final 10 games to finish with a winning record.
Even though the Lions missed the playoffs, they’re tentatively expected to compete for their first NFC North title in 2023.
There’s still plenty of room for improvement, though. Statistically, Detroit had one of the worse defenses in the NFL, despite clear second-half improvements across the board. Does that mean they’ll move on from most of their defensive free agents, or will some of them have a chance to return?
Here’s a list of the team’s free agents this offseason:
- LB Alex Anzalone
- K Michael Badgley
- LB Chris Board
- DL Michael Brockers (cut by Lions)
- OL Evan Brown
- DL Austin Bryant
- DL Isaiah Buggs (re-signed by Lions)
- WR DJ Chark
- DL John Cominsky
- LS Scott Daly (Lions have exclusive rights)
- DB DeShon Elliott
- DB Will Harris
- DB Mike Hughes
- RB Justin Jackson
- DL Benito Jones (Lions have exclusive rights)
- WR Tom Kennedy
- OL Tommy Kraemer (Lions have exclusive rights)
- DB CJ Moore
- OL Matt Nelson (restricted free agent)
- DB Amani Oruwariye
- OL Ross Pierschbacher (re-signed by Lions)
- LB Anthony Pittman (Lions have exclusive rights)
- DB Bobby Price (restricted free agent)
- RB Craig Reynolds (re-signed by Lions, who had exclusive rights)
- OL Dan Skipper
- QB Nate Sudfeld
- RB Jamaal Williams
- LB Josh Woods
- TE Brock Wright (Lions have exclusive rights)
- TE Shane Zylstra (Lions have exclusive rights)
Brockers is a free agent because the Lions cut him this offseason, saving $10 million in cap space. It was a no-brainer for a player who recorded just one sack in 2021 and became a complete non-factor last season.
Buggs and Reynolds were re-signed Monday before the noon negotiation period arrived. Backup center Pierschbacher also received a new contract this offseason, and Pittman earned an exclusive rights tender.
Exclusive rights players are those who have received credit for two or fewer NFL seasons but aren’t under a longer contract. If the Lions extend them a qualifying offer, they will play for that amount during the 2023 season. If the Lions don’t extend an offer to exclusive rights players, those players become free agents.