The first domino fell for the Detroit Lions this free agency period. Just a couple of hours before the official start of the NFL free agency negotiating period, the Lions re-signed defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs.
Per Tom Pelissero, the Lions are retaining Buggs on a two-year deal worth up to $6 million.
It is not the most exciting roster move, but it is an important one. Buggs enjoyed a productive season with the Lions in 2022. The 26-year-old interior defensive lineman started 13 games in the Motor City. He recorded 46 tackles, including 21 solo tackles.
Buggs was forced into starting duty with Michael Brockers and Levi Onwuzurike losing time to injuries. Next to Alim McNeill, Buggs proved he was a reliable enough run defender, and he was able to apply some pressure on the quarterback. Buggs finished 2022 with 10 quarterback hits.
Retaining Buggs’ services provides the Lions with a solid depth player at a position of need. However, his best role is as a depth and rotational player. The Lions are certain to pursue starting-caliber interior defensive line talent in the draft and throughout the rest of the free agency period.
Other defensive linemen who should be on the Detroit Lions’ radar
In free agency, names like Dre’Mont Jones, Dalvin Tomlinson and Zach Allen could be on Detroit’s radar for a starting option next to McNeill.
In the Draft, Calijah Kancey, Bryan Bresee and Mazi Smith could all hear their names called by the Lions in the first two rounds. If Georgia star Jalen Carter falls to sixth overall, he would be a very enticing option.
Detroit Lions retain exclusive rights free agents
Running back Craig Reynolds also re-signed with the Lions. Reynolds appeared in nine games with Detroit. He rushed for 102 yards and added an extra 116 yards through the air. Reynolds’ return gives the Lions a solid third guy in their running backs room.
Other exclusive rights free agents the Lions have tendered include Scott Daly, Benito Jones, Anthony Pittman, Brock Wright and Shane Zylstra.
Wright is expected to compete for the starting tight end position for Detroit next season. The young tight end flashed potential during his time as the Lions’ starter late in the 2022 season.
Other free agents the Detroit Lions still need to decide on re-signing
The biggest name on Detroit’s 2022 roster fans want to bring back is running back Jamaal Williams. The veteran broke the Lions’ single-season record for rushing touchdowns in a single season. Williams also enjoyed Detroit’s first 1,000-yard rushing season since Reggie Bush in 2013.
Reports indicate the Lions and Williams have a mutual interest in re-signing. Teams like the Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and Cincinnati Bengals are all rumored to have an interest in Williams. If one of those teams throws him a lucrative contract, Williams could walk.
Wide receiver D.J. Chark, linebacker Alex Anzalone and guard Evan Brown are among the other major names entering free agency this offseason. Detroit has roughly $20 million in cap space. The team has money to work with.
Buggs and Reynolds are just the first dominoes to fall as the Lions look to build a roster to fulfill their playoff aspirations.
(Featured Image Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)