5 players the Detroit Lions need to prioritize in free agency

(Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Lions, Josh Reynolds
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions are set to enter the new league year with a projected $25.7 million in cap space, which ranks as the tenth most across the NFL.  The free agency period is set to begin on March 16th.

Although general manager Brad Holmes clearly inherited a bad situation, the first-time GM has made positive strides in re-tooling this lackluster roster.

I don’t expect the Lions to make a massive splash in free agency this offseason, but more of a controlled spending spree.  I expect Holmes to sign some well-known names, some roster stepping stones, so to speak, but not likely household names.  I don’t imagine Detroit will be adding many heart-racing free agents.

When I look over Detroit’s current depth chart, I notice a few glaring holes this roster needs to fill through free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft.

The Detroit Lions have deficiencies all across their roster, but I am going to highlight four specific needs that need to be addressed this offseason.

1. The first need is one that has been talked about early and often this winter, and that is the wide receiver position.  The Detroit Lions are in dire need of adding an outside receiver that can do damage out on the boundary and in the red zone.

Last season, Detroit got stellar production from rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown, primarily working from the slot.  The USC product is expected to see an expanded role in 2022 but will need help outside and down the field to maximize his value.

As it stands now, in addition to St. Brown, the Detroit Lions are expected to deploy Josh Reynolds, who recently signed a two-year extension.  Reynolds is also a favorite of quarterback Jared Goff.  The Lions will also get third-year man Quintez Cephus back from injury.

I expect the Detroit Lions to sign a proven pass-catcher in free agency, plus I anticipate Holmes drafting at least one rookie receiver but likely two.

2. The next position of need the Detroit Lions have is on the backend of their secondary.  So far this offseason, the Lions have been unable to work out a contract extension with safety Tracy Walker, and it appears the four-year veteran will be hitting the open market next week and will have plenty of suitors. I hope Detroit finds a way to bring back Walker, and even by doing so, the Lions will need to find a running mate to pair with him.

3. Another area the Detroit Lions need to shore up is the linebacker position.  I had high hopes last season for rookie Derrick Barnes, and although feeling hopeful at times throughout the year, I found myself somewhat underwhelmed by his lack of production as a rookie.  The Lions primarily started veteran Alex Anzalone, and special teams standout Jalen Reeves-Maybin at the position in favor of Barnes.

Barnes will have a clear path for success in 2022, as the Lions are not expected to retain Anzalone, and if resigned, Reeves-Maybin is best suited as a reserve and special teamer.

4. The final position that must be addressed is at defensive end.  The Detroit Lions recently announced they’d be releasing veteran Trey Flowers, which saves the franchise just over $10 million in cap space this upcoming season.

The Detroit Lions have yet to re-sign edge-rusher Charles Harris, a former first-round selection who excelled last season in relief for Flowers and Romeo Okwara when injuries occurred.  Harris accumulated 7.5 sacks and 65 tackles in 14 starts.

Keeping these areas in mind, let’s sift through some pending free agents and find five players the Detroit Lions must target in the coming days and weeks.