The Detroit Lions enter the 2023 NFL offseason riding high off a 9-7 winning season, where they outperformed expectations in the second year of their rebuild. Still, general manager Brad Holmes and co. will have their work cut out for them in order to improve their roster this offseason. While Holmes has mainly built this team through his excellent drafting, it is clear that this team has the opportunity to compete with anyone next season. Here are two blockbuster trades The Detroit Lions can make to improve their team for 2023.
Detroit Lions Receive: DT DeForest Buckner, Indianapolis Colts Receive: 2023 18th Overall Pick
While The Detroit Lions’ defense certainly improved as the season went on, most of the glaring holes on The Lions’ roster is on that side of the ball. Detroit especially has a need at defensive tackle. Alim McNeil will almost certainly fill the role of nose tackle once again next season, but who will stand beside him? Isaiah Buggs is set to be a free agent, and has vocally stated that he wants to return to Detroit in 2023, but Buggs more so fits the role of a solid depth piece, rather than a full time starter. Other players such as Levi Onwuzurike and Josh Paschal have promise, but we have yet to see either of them stay healthy for a significant portion of time.
In comes former All-Pro defensive tackle Deforest Buckner. Moving the 18th pick for Buckner would show that Holmes isn’t afraid to go after big impact players outside of the draft, and he would be a welcomed addition to a Lions defensive front that features the likes of Aidan Hutchinson, James Houston, and Romeo Okwara. Buckner is only 28 years old, and has shown that he is still a top five player on the defensive interior. The Colts defensive standout recorded 9 sacks in 2022, and posted a high PFF grade of 82.3.
This move would also make sense for Indianapolis as well. The Colts are entering a new era and potentially a rebuild. Buckner may want to move to a team that plans to be more competitive, and The Colts could receive premier draft capital for the star defensive tackle. The Colts currently hold the 4th overall pick in the draft, and it is rumored that they may want to jump to the 1st pick in order to secure their quarterback of the future. Chicago, who currently holds the first pick, will surely want a haul of draft capital, and if Indianapolis could package the 4th and 18th pick, they may be able to make a deal.
Detroit Lions Receive: CB Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams Receive: 2023 18th Overall Pick, 2023 81st Overall Pick
When rumors came out that The Los Angeles Rams could be looking to deal star cornerback Jalen Ramsey this offseason, The Lions were immediately brought up as a possible suitor. Detroit has had close connections with The Rams, and have already completed a blockbuster trade with Los Angeles. With Detroit’s need at the cornerback position, along with The Rams’ desperate need for draft capital, a deal between the two could seem all the more likely. The Rams only have two picks in the top 100 of the 2023 NFL draft, those being an early second and early third round pick. The reigning Super Bowl champions are not looking to move Ramsey due to his play on the field, they are simply an aging team with tons of glaring needs, and they do not have the cap space or draft picks to address those needs.
As for Detroit, they certainly need to upgrade at cornerback. Possibly the weakest position group on the team, the cornerback room has no high end talent or depth. Former 3rd overall pick Jeff Okudah finally showed some promise after a lackluster first two seasons in The NFL, and Jerry Jacobs looks to be a solid emergency starter, but lacks the top speed to keep up with great receivers. Adding a true number one cornerback is one of Detroit’s top priorities this offseason, and what better way to solidify their secondary with arguably the best corner in the game?
Although this would be a dream move for some, it could be unlikely, as The Lions would need to give up premier draft capital, as well as picking up one of the biggest contracts of any defensive player in the NFL. Jalen Ramsey is set to be paid $17,000,000 in 2023, can and should The Lions clear up cap space for his undeniable talent?