The Lions have a ton of talented free agents who both should and shouldn’t be re-signed. Like last year, I believe the Lions will resign a large portion of their free agents while also attempting to pursue one or two significant defensive free agents. Here are a few free agents who I don’t believe the Lions should sign.
DJ Chark signed a one-year, $10 million contract last year. Chark hauled in 30 catches for 502 yards and 3 touchdowns. Although he missed 6 games, he performed well and began to show potential down the stretch. He would cost the Lions around $10 million annually, and with Jameson Williams returning and Amon-Ra St. Brown emerging as one of the league’s top receivers, the Lions would be better off using that money to sign a veteran linebacker or cornerback in free agency rather than paying their wide receiver No. 3. Chark and Goff did establish connection, and he has stated he wants to remain with the team, but Josh Reynolds, who had 38 catches for 479 yards and 3 touchdowns while missing 3 games costs only $2.7 million and has excellent chemistry with Goff, dating all the way back to LA, so I believe he would fit in just well as Chark. In the end, the Lions must determine how valuable Chark really is to the team.
Amani Oruwariye is unquestionably a no. He played like trash, no other way to put it. He had a season where he wouldn’t be on most NFL teams after a breakout year that made it seem like the Lions had a solid starting cornerback. He made 14 starts in 2021 and had 6 interceptions and 11 passes deflected. He only made six starts in 2022 and was infamously benched after repeatedly lining up offsides at the goal line against the Dolphins in week 8. I don’t see the value in keeping him when a corner will probably emerge from the draft or free agency. Oruwariye was paid 2.5 million dollars but hardly saw the field in 2022. I would be willing to sign him to the practice squad if a team does not sign him, but given how well he performed in 2021, a team will probably choose to sign him.
The final player I believe the Lions shouldn’t resign is Austin Bryant. Bryant had a successful year in 2021, playing in 14 games and earning 4.5 sacks and 31 tackles. He only made 9 tackles with 0 sacks in the 9 games he appeared in in 2022, none of which he started. His performance was insignificant, and I don’t see a place for him on the roster. Pascal and Hutchinson will be entering their second seasons, Onwuzurike may return, and a defensive lineman may be selected in the draft. When compared to Bryant’s productivity this year, John Cominsky and Isaiah Buggs are two defensive lineman I believe the Lions must sign since they have established themselves as far more useful and deserving of spots on the team.
Even though I’d like to keep the majority of the free agents, some of them would be too expensive or wouldn’t have a useful position on the roster. Expect Brad Holmes to renegotiate contracts with those players who he believes would be essential to fighting for the North next season rather than the more costly ones who would still play little roles. I have faith in Holmes to choose the best players to sign and to keep assembling a young, competitive squad.