We expect the Detroit Lions to make further changes in the summer of 2023. This is understandable given that they still have one huge deficit to close. Of course, they can accomplish it through the draft. Alternatively, they may also want to reconsider free agency. Here we’ll look at the biggest roster need of the Lions after the first week of the 2023 NFL free agency period.
The Lions experienced a significant improvement in their performance last season. Of course, much of the credit went to head coach Dan Campbell, offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, and the solid draft picks. To continue the success they’ve achieved, the team focused on accumulating talent on both offense and defense during the 2023 NFL offseason. However, they should also look to the future, particularly concerning the quarterback position. Jared Goff was great last season, but is he really their long-term, multi-year guy? They have an additional first-round pick, acquired through the Matthew Stafford trade, and are considering drafting Kentucky quarterback Will Levis.
Jared Goff with the biggest play of the night 🎯pic.twitter.com/L0iJzR2CDx
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) January 9, 2023
The Lions have been busy this offseason, but they should continue pounding the rock. There is still some work to do in free agency and the draft. Nonetheless, if they continue to make the right moves, they have the potential to become the best team in the NFC North. This is especially with Aaron Rodgers expected to leave the division.
Let’s look at the biggest roster need of the Lions after the first week of free agency.
The Lions have already made a significant move by signing Graham Glasgow, a former Lion who was drafted in the third round in 2016. Glasgow has returned to Detroit on a one-year, $4.5 million contract. We expect him to compete for the starting position at right guard. This signing helps to address the only area of uncertainty on the Lions’ offensive line. Remember that Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell have been consistent at tackle, Frank Ragnow is a top center, and Jonah Jackson has shown promise at left guard.
Meanwhile, Halapoulivaati Vaitai missed the entire 2022 season due to a back injury. Recall that he was expected to start at right guard in 2022. With a $9.4 million contract in 2023, the Lions must decide what to do with the remainder of his deal. Evan Brown filled in admirably for Vaitai but has since signed a one-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks. By bringing back Glasgow, the Lions have addressed their concerns at the right guard position. This is especially since he has experience playing both center and guard during his previous tenure in Detroit. Glasgow is also very familiar with Decker and Ragnow.
Overall, Glasgow’s signing has helped the Lions address a key position of concern and brings in someone familiar with the team. This should really help with the transition. With a strong offensive line, the Lions can improve their offense and compete at a higher level in the upcoming NFL season.
Again, Glasgow brings valuable veteran leadership to the team. He started 33 of the 37 games he played in his three seasons in Denver. Glasgow also finished the 2022 season with an overall offensive grade of 59.3, a pass-blocking mark of 62.7, and a run-blocking grade of 61.6. Those would have been the lowest among Detroit’s starting offensive line. However, he ranked higher than both Jonah Jackson and Evan Brown in both run and pass-blocking categories.
Glasgow’s return to Detroit means he will be blocking for running backs D’Andre Swift and newly signed David Montgomery. As he appreciated his first stint with the Lions, he is expected to be a solid addition to the team’s culture and make an immediate contribution. The Lions have little to lose from signing the 30-year-old to a one-year, low-risk deal. That said, he is also now the oldest player on the Lions’ roster. They need to build depth behind him.
Looking ahead, the Lions’ next move in the offseason involves deciding what to do with Vaitai. For sure, Glasgow’s signing will influence this. If the team releases Vaitai, they will free up approximately $9.5 million in cap space. However, this move could also impact the depth of their offensive line, especially if another lineman sustains an injury.
One option the Lions could explore is pursuing Dalton Risner. He played well for the Broncos last season and remains one of the top available guards this offseason. Risner is an adept pass protector and could quickly help bolster the Lions’ offensive line. Alternatively, the Lions could consider Trai Turner, who has been to five Pro Bowls as a member of the Carolina Panthers. Of course, he has bounced around the NFL since 2020. While Turner has lost some of his previous skill, he could still provide valuable experience as a backup. He can step in for specific tasks as needed and would not be a costly free agent.
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