Brad Holmes has emerged as the orchestrator of the Detroit Lions’ dramatic roster overhaul. When Holmes took the helm, he was faced with the remnants of former GM Bob Quinn’s legacy – a collection of underperformers, overpaid veterans, and injured players draining the Lions’ resources.
The Matthew Stafford-for-Jared Goff trade was Holmes’s first significant move. It was a masterstroke that signaled a new era in Detroit. The move was strategic and insightful, ushering in fresh talent and draft capital while jettisoning an expensive and increasingly untenable contract. However, this was merely the start of Holmes’s shrewd, calculated decisions that transformed the Lions.
Holmes swiftly tackled the Lions’ bloated contracts. Players like tight end Jesse James, cornerbacks Justin Coleman and Desmond Trufant, were released, freeing up valuable cap space. Further, Holmes made difficult but necessary moves, trading TE TJ Hockenson and carefully avoiding an expensive deal with fan-favorite Jamaal Williams. Don’t get me started about Trey Flowers and Jarrad Davis.
It wasn’t just about shedding weight but managing resources strategically.
Clearing the Balance Sheets
Holmes’s strategy also encompassed injecting new talent into the roster. He negotiated one-year deals for veterans like CJ Gardner-Johnson and Emmanuel Moseley, and capitalized on undrafted free agents like Mohamed Ibrahim and Starling Thomas V. The aggressive offseason has breathed new life into the entire organization and their fan base.
With their roster bolstered by young talent and a rejuvenated defense, the Lions have high hopes for the 2023 season. Holmes’s careful balance sheet management has ensured that, even after significant additions to the team, the Lions have the flexibility to make further moves.
But should they?
Salary Cap Strength
As of June 19, according to Spotrac, the Lions are in the sixth-best salary cap position, with just under $23 million. A few days earlier, Field Yates tweeted the below list of all NFL teams cap space ranked from 1-32.
This financial advantage, combined with a young and determined roster, could be the Lions’ winning hand. Their financial health allows the Lions to further strengthen their squad through free agency or trades, making them serious contenders for a division title.
Again, the question is…but should they?
Potential Free Agents: The Big Decisions
The Lions’ cap space could pave the way for some high-profile signings. Top-tier free agents available include:
- DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver, 31 years old – $23.2M/year estimated market value
- Dalvin Cook, Running Back, 27 years old – $8.7M/year estimated market value
- Yannick Ngakoue, Edge, 28 years old – $14.8M/year estimated market value
- Isaiah Wynn, Offensive Line, 26 years old – $15.4M/year estimated market value
- Marcus Peters, Cornerback, 30 years old – $9.8M/year estimated market value
However, budget-friendly options more aligned with the Lions’ current team structure could be:
- Shelby Harris, Defensive Tackle, 31 years old
- Jarvis Landry, Wide Receiver, 30 years old
- James Robinson, Running Back, 24 years old
- Shaquill Griffin, Cornerback, 27 years old
- Kyle Van Noy, Edge, 32 years old
While the Lions are eagerly anticipated in 2023, their prospects for 2024 look even brighter.
Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap highlights the Lions’ $90 million projected cap space for 2024 (counting carryover) and their six qualifying free agents. This suggests that the Lions are not just building for now but for a future of sustained success. The thought remains whether they can convert these advantages into on-field success.
The Lions have the money to make another splash before the 2023 season opens…but should they?
For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21
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