The stage was set in week 18 for the Lions to make their first playoff appearance since 2016. All they needed was a Seahawks lost, and to defeat the Packers in their primetime matchup. But after a thrilling overtime game the Rams barely fell short to the Seahawks and shattered all hope around the world that the Lions would finally make the playoffs. Now that playoff contention is out of the question for the Lions the grueling six months of the offseason begins. There are hundreds of ways this offseason could go but there are a few things that must be covered in the beginning and the dog days of the NFL offseason. So what now for the Detroit Lions?
With the offseason now beginning their are some big name players on the Lions that are still looking for contracts. Big name time offensive players consist of DJ Chark, and Jamaal Williams. The main target for the offense will be 27 year old Jamaal Williams, the problem is that he is a running back and they already have a rising star in D’Andre Swiift. So is it worth it to sign a aging running back. Jamaal Williams ran for 1,066 yards, and 17 touchdowns, breaking Barry Sanders previous record for most touchdowns in a season by a Lion. Signing Jamaal Williams would not only be a great signing statiscly but it seems like he is one of the most liked players in the entire NFL. He is by far one of the most explosive and exciting players to watch and with the Lions having 27 million to spare a interest of signing should be shown in Jamaal Willams.
DJ Chark on the other hand could be considered a failed experiment. He only played in 11 games and hardly broke 500 receiving yards. His impact was almost unnoticeable and with how much he will be asking for in free agency I think it’s time to part ways.
On the defensive side of the ball some big factors are up for contract renewals. Mike Hughes, Alex Anzalone, Deshon Elliott, and Isiah Buggs are all up for new contracts. The four names that are listed all proved this year why they need a contract extension. Alex Anzalone was the only defensive player to achieve 100 tackles this season and right behind him was DeShon Elliott with 96. MIke Hughes and Buggs were both surprisingly solid this year and could have earned themselves an extension. But this could only possibly be the tip of the iceberg resigning wise, many backup and rotational players are also up for renewal.
Is a upgrade at quarterback necessary?
Heading into the 2022 NFL season it was almost without question that the Lions would find a replacement for Goff in the 2023 offseason. But after Goff had a outstanding NFL season and bounced back many are in question of whether they should look other places to fix and let Goff sling it for one more season. The GM for the Lions has already come out and made a statement expressing the fact that he believes that Goff will remain the starter in 2023. But the NFL is a business and if a greater opportunity were to arise Goff’s era in Detroit could be in limbo. Whether it’s free agency or through the draft that a possible replacement could be at hold.
The Lions will pick at 6 (via Rams) and 18 in round one of the draft. Now this will not be were the Lions would target a quarterback most likely. The Lions would still have two 2nd round picks, and a 3rd were it would be more likely for the Lions to target a rookie quarterback. Now the rookie would not start year one, he would sit behind Goff and study the game to hopefully understand it enough to start year two. Will Levis, Hendon Hooker, Tanner McKee, and Anthony Richardson could all be potential targets to draft in day 2 or 3. Even this is not a possibility since the Lions front office seems pretty content on Goff remaining the starter for the 2023 season.
Does offensive coordinator Ben Johnson return?
An importance this offseason will attain the Lions trying to keep Ben Johnson in town and return as the offensive coordinator. Johnson managed to flip the entire offensive culture and led them to a very exceptional season. With Johnson as the coordinator the Lions managed to rank third for total yards, sixth for pass yards, eighth for passing touchdowns, third for rushing touchdowns, fourth in total touchdowns, and second in redzone touchdown percentage. These numbers our absolutely remarkable compared to what their expectations were set during the beginning of the season.
There have been many rumors circulating around the league about the possibility of Ben Johnson accepting the role of head coach with another organization. With this only being Ben Johnsons first year as a coordinator the doubts of this actually happening are very marginal. Even with the large amount of vacated head coaching jobs around the league his under qualification for a head coaching position should keep him at bay in Detroit for another season. The odds of him returning I would say is 75% only because he is a first year offensive coordinator and there are many open qualifiers to fill head coaching positions around the NFL.
Do the Lions try to find a new TE 1?
The Lions tight end rotation consist of a in and out basis of Brock Wright, Shane Zylstra, and James Mitchell. None of them are your big name playmakers that will make a pivotal difference in a game. The Lions did have 2022 pro bowl tight end TJ Hockenson for the first seven games of the season but was traded to the Vikings on November 1st. This left a large hole in the Lions roster and now might be one of the more important positions to fix during the offseason.
The Lions could fix this problem in both free agency or during the draft. The tight end market this year has some very good potential in possible targets like Mike Gesiki, Dalton Shultz, Evan Engram, Austin Hooper, and Hayden Hurst. Although the price of signing one of the bigger name tight end’s might cost them more then they are willing to give out, and with it being such a need they have to look to fix it. The Lions could also sign a low priced tight end that has high upside. Irv Smith Jr, Foster Moreau, Drew Sample, and Donald Parham all fit that category. These are all potential targets the Lions could look to sign and possibly fill the missing tight end position in the Lions roster. The draft also has some very good prospects they could look to target with their abundant amount of early round draft picks. Michael Mayer, Dalton Kincaid, and Tucker Kraft all have high potential and could be good fits for the Lions offense. Each of the draftees listed also have a high upside of developmental potential and could be stars in their near future if properly trained, and groomed within the Lions scheme.