The official start of the new league year and free agency is one week away, and that's when the retooling of Detroit's 2023 roster can officially begin for Lions general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell.
Over his first two seasons as general manager, Holmes has signed a lot of free agents to one-year contracts and really focused on re-signing his own free agents. This year he has the most cap space he's had in his tenure to work with this offseason.
"We're always going to be very strategic and selective with our approach," Holmes said after the season. "Regardless of how many resources you have, how much money you can spend, we always are very selective and strategic with how we go about free agency."
With that being said, here is my list of 10 potential free agents that could interest the Lions:
1. CB JAMEL DEAN, TAMPA BAY
This would likely come with the biggest free-agent contract Holmes would have to give out in his Detroit tenure. Not sure if that's likely after his comments in Indianapolis, but there's no denying Dean would be a fit in Detroit as a No. 1 CB candidate. He's notched a coverage grade of 75.0 or better from Pro Football Focus in every one of his NFL seasons.
2. LB TREMAINE EDMUNDS, BUFFALO
The Lions could be a good landing spot for Edmunds, who turns just 25 years old May 2. Edmunds' 86.9 coverage grade in 2022 was the third best mark among off-ball linebackers. A sure tackler, good cover guy and explosive athlete, Edmunds could be an instant-impact player in Detroit's defense.
3. WR ALLEN LAZARD, GREEN BAY
It isn't a deep class of free-agent wide receivers, which should benefit Lazard. He's one of the best blocking receivers in the league, which makes him an instant scheme fit in Detroit. He's got terrific size (6-5, 227) and caught 60 passes for 788 yards and six scores last season in 15 games.
4. CB CAMERON SUTTON, PITTSBURGH
Sutton earned a 70-plus coverage grade and allowed just 411 receiving yards – the ninth fewest among cornerbacks with at least 400 coverage snaps – last season. Opposing passers completed just 50.7 percent of their passes in his coverage area with a 69.6 rating. Sutton's versatility playing outside and inside adds value too.
5. S CHAUNCEY GARDNER-JOHNSON, PHILADELPHIA
Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said down in Indy at Combine last week he values versatile safeties who can also step down and play in the slot. Gardner-Johnson certainly fits the description and was a turnover machine last year for the Eagles with six interceptions. Plus, both head coach Dan Campbell and Glenn know Gardner-Johnson well from their time together in New Orleans. Tracy Walker and Kerby Joseph can be a great duo at safety for Detroit, but Walker is coming off a major Achilles injury.
6. DL ZACH ALLEN, ARIZONA
The Lions need more pass-rush prowess from the interior of their defensive line, and Allen is a player who showed last season he can provide that with 5.5 sacks, 20 quarterback hits and 10 tackles for loss.
7. CB ROCK YA-SIN, LAS VEGAS
Ya-Sin is physical corner who is at his best in press-man coverage. Teams completed just 58.5 percent of their passes on him with just one touchdown this past season. He's got to improve as a tackler against the run, but he's still young (26) with some upside.
View photos of the wide receivers & tight ends at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine.
8. LB DAVID LONG, TENNESSEE
Long is one of those linebackers who has proven over his first four seasons in the league that he can do a little bit of everything. His 89.0 run-defense grade in 2022 ranked fourth at the position. He's also a skilled pass rusher and blitzer.
9. DT DRE'MONT JONES, DENVER
He has 22 sacks through four seasons playing both inside and outside at 6-foot-3, 281 pounds. He's coming off a career-high 6.5 sacks while playing in 13 games this past season. Again, a versatile player who seems to be a scheme fit.
10. LB T.J. EDWARDS, PHILADELPHIA
Edwards had a career year becoming a core player in the Eagles' defense with the second best grade among off-ball linebackers. Edwards was one of just four linebackers to earn grades above 75.0 in run defense and coverage.