Biggest questions facing the Detroit Lions this offseason….

How will the Lions replace their departing coaches?

The Lions are at risk of losing a crucial leader this offseason. As of this writing, only two head coaching positions remain open—the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Commanders—but both Ben Johnson and Aaron Glenn could still be hired away. The Seahawks have an interview scheduled with Johnson while the Commanders are looking at both.

Which players will receive contract extensions?

Entering the offseason, the Lions have some cap space to make some noise in free agency, but a sizeable chunk of that cash might end up in the pockets of players already under contract. 2021 draft class selections Penei Sewell and Amon-Ra St. Brown are first-team All-Pros and will be earning a sizable paycheck sooner than later. The Lions would be wise to lock them up before free agency is on the table—given the start to their careers, the price tag will only increase over time.

Which free agents need to be brought back?

There is no shortage of important names entering free agency for the Lions. The offensive line faces a potential reshuffle with Jonah Jackson, Graham Glasgow, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Matt Nelson, and Dan Skipper on expiring contracts. Josh Reynolds enters free agency following a disastrous NFC Championship game. Brad Holmes traded for Donovan Peoples-Jones in the last year of his rookie contract and it remains unclear if he did enough in his short stint with the Lions to garner returning interest.

How will the cornerbacks be addressed?

From start to finish, the Lions secondary was not cutting it. Cameron Sutton was put into the CB1 role and struggled, giving up a league-leading 889 yards in the regular season and achieving his worst PFF grade since his 113-snap rookie season in 2017. Perhaps more crucially, he gave up a league-leading 284 yards in the postseason. The CB2 spot was a carousel all season, with Jerry Jacobs, Emmanuel Moseley, Khalil Dorsey, and finally Kindle Vildor getting the start at points this season. 

How will the safeties be addressed?

Continuing with the secondary, the safety position was where the Lions had plenty of depth this season but to mixed results. C.J. Gardner-Johnson missed a majority of the season due to injury and made more headlines with his talk than his play. Kerby Joseph totaled a team-high four interceptions, but his play regressed from his impressive rookie season. Tracy Walker was perhaps viewed as the other safety in the starting mix, but he was a healthy scratch for the entirety of the playoffs.

How will the defensive line be addressed?

You need only look at PFF’s final pressures totals to see the state of disarray that the Lions defensive line is in. On the season, Aidan Hutchinson finished with an incredible 121 pressures, the most in the NFL. The next closest player on the Lions roster? Defensive tackle Alim McNeill with 43. This absurd gap highlights how the pass rush was essentially Hutchinson and nobody else. In fact, the players with the second-most sacks on the team were McNeill and Melifonwu with six.

Is this the time to go all-in with free agency and trades?

The Lions went on a great run during the 2023 season, but the fact remains that the roster was not talented enough to overcome their mistakes. Detroit suddenly finds itself on the precipice of an elite roster, but some positions are still missing stars.

Will there be cap casualties?

The Lions are not in a dire situation cap-wise, but there are some players whose on-field value will be closely weighed with their salary. Tracy Walker is the most obvious name here, as cutting him would save the team $5.5 million against the cap. Other names they could consider are John Cominsky after a down year (saves $4.6 million) and Levi Onwuzurike ($1.7 million).

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