Monday, January 23, 2023

Lions 2023 Cap Space: Team Already Stands Well Against NFL

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The Detroit Lions are beginning to think about the 2023 offseason, and while it does, the biggest upcoming event on the calendar remains free agent time.

With the NFL offseason just around the corner, Lions fans are likely already locked in, trying to figure out which players could lure them in to increase their fortunes on both sides of the ball.

Already, there is some good news ahead of the off-season if you take a closer look at the team’s expected salary cap. The Lions already have a top-15 overall in the league and are 12th overall, PFF recently revealed. As of now, the Lions have $15,050,618 to spend at the start of the offseason. That total is just $1,547,898 away from the top 10 held by the San Francisco 49ers.

As for the Lions, the answers are mixed. The team has opted to sign in-house free agents under Brad Holmes like Romeo Okwara on defense and Tracy Walker on safety over the past two years, while elsewhere making only modest value purchases across the roster and working through the draft.

This year, with many players on expiring contracts craving returns, that could be the ticket for the Lions again.

With that cash, however, the team could still choose to take a bigger hit or two to help their roster take the next step toward consistent competition.

While Detroit’s expected cap total is already close to the top of the league, the reality for the Lions could get even better once the offseason gets into full swing.

Aside from quarterback Jared Goff likely to return, the Lions could still make several cuts that could increase their overall cap even further and allow them to compete for even more free agents in the open market.

Right now, the most obvious player to show the door to is offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai. While Vaitai had a solid 2021 season in Detroit, he struggled with injuries for most of his career with the Lions and was put back for most of 2022 at 30 with a back injury. This allowed other guards like Evan Brown and Logan Stenberg to develop. Cutting Vaitai would save the Lions $9,400,000 but would come with a $5,896,389 dead cap hit.

In addition to Vaitai, another veteran could be dropped in Michael Brockers. Brockers has completed just four tackles this season, has been inactive several times and, at 32, is the oldest player with the Lions. Its release would come with a $3,975,000 dead cap tax, but might make sense as Detroit tries to bring better plays forward.

Additionally, the Lions could run upcoming free agents like cornerback Amani Oruwariye and defensive back Will Harris, saving them money and giving them the opportunity to negotiate with others.

Detroit wanted the league’s youngest roster to trend in the right direction, and if those veterans are cut, it could offer even more help in making that happen.

Detroit has been busy this offseason and could see most of the help needed on the defensive side of the ball compared to their struggles there.

The Lions ranked 32nd in total defense last season, struggling on both run and pass. Against run, they placed 29th with a total of 2,491 yards allowed and 22 touchdowns.

With that in mind, it would be a good idea for Detroit to seek help along the defensive line, and particularly in defensive tackles. Any available defensive tackles are sure to pique the team’s interest in free agents as that’s where upgrades are needed. It’s similar with linebackers, since they also play against the run and pass.

In secondary school, cornerback could be on the Lions’ menu early and often, as the team ranked 30th in the league in pass defense and allowed 4,179 yards through the air. Any available veteran cornerbacks that fit the pattern are sure to pique the team’s interest.

Offensively, there will be some questions as to what happens to D’Andre Swift running back. Detroit apparently would have enough at wide receiver, but it’s possible they could look at another addition there as well.

As with any team, there is no shortage of requirements or spots that Lions could select to upgrade. At the moment the lions will be starting from a pretty good spot.

In secondary school, cornerback could be on the Lions’ menu early and often, as the team ranked 30th in the league in pass defense and allowed 4,179 yards through the air. Any available veteran cornerbacks that fit the pattern are sure to pique the team’s interest.

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