The official start of the new league year and free agency is one week away, and that's when the reshaping of Detroit's roster can officially begin for Lions general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell.
In his first year as general manager in 2021, Holmes signed a lot of free agents to one-year contracts. The only multi-year deal he dished out in free agency was to running back Jamaal Williams.
"It's great when it works out and you can find that on a one-year deal, isn't it? But like I was saying when we talked at the end of the season, we were in a position where we had to resort to a lot of those one-year deals, just with the resources that we had available to us," Holmes said at last week's NFL Scouting Combine.
"We'll have a little bit more resources available to us this year, where we can search for … we're not just searching for one-year deal guys. I'm not saying that we won't sign a guy that's on a one-year deal, that'll still be in play, but I guess you can say the universe is a lot more open to us this year."
With that being said, here is my list of 10 potential free agents that could interest the Lions:
1. S Marcus Williams, New Orleans
Even if the Lions re-sign safety Tracy Walker, the Lions could hit a home-run by signing Williams and having two veteran safeties with experience in this defense playing side by side. Campbell and Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn know Williams well from their time in New Orleans. Williams would add a ton of playmaking ability to the Lions secondary. Over the last three years alone, he has nine interceptions and has defended 28 passes and forced three fumbles.
2. LB De'Vondre Campbell, Green Bay
Campbell had the second highest grade among all NFL inside linebackers by Pro Football Focus last year, earning him a Pro Bowl nod. He notched 146 tackles (102 solo) with a couple sacks, two interceptions and six tackles for loss. Like Williams, Campbell would bring instant production to a Lions' defense that still has some work to do filling out their linebacker corps.
3. WR Allen Robinson II, Chicago
It was a tough 2021 campaign for Robinson in one of the worst passing offenses in the NFL. But just a year prior Robinson caught 102 passes for 1,250 yards with six touchdowns in 16 games played. That was his second straight 1,000-yard season (2019 & 2020). He's one of the best receivers in the league getting off the line of scrimmage and is terrific using his big frame (6-2, 220) on 50-50 balls. New Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was very clear when speaking to reporters at the Combine last week that for his offense to take the next step, they need an outside vertical threat who can win one-on-one matchups outside the numbers. Robinson could fit the bill.
4. EDGE Dante Fowler Jr., Atlanta
The former third overall pick has had an up and down six seasons in the NFL, but there's a connection here between him, Holmes and assistant GM Ray Agnew. Fowler's best season as a pro came in 2019 when he started 14 games for the Rams and recorded 11.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss. The Lions did a great job getting the most out of Charles Harris last year, another former first-round pick who hadn't quite lived up to expectations. Can they do it again?
5. WR DJ Chark Jr., Jacksonville
At 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, Chark has the size and length needed to be an impact player in the red zone and a deep threat. He played in only four games last year due to injury, but had a 1,000-yard season in 2019 with eight touchdowns. He has a career 13.9 yards per reception average.
6. LB Foyesade Oluokun, Atlanta
Talk about production from the interior linebacker position, Oluokun led the NFL with 192 tackles (102 solo) and also added a couple sacks, three interceptions (including the game clincher against the Lions Week 16) and six passes defended. He's a high-volume tackler with playmaking ability. This isn't a very deep class of free agent linebackers, so players like Oluokun should benefit from that.
7. DL William Gholston, Tampa Bay
Talk about position versatility, which this Lions coaching staff loves. Gholston has played both left and right defensive end and can also slot inside at 6-foot-6, 281 pounds. He's coming off a career-high 4.5 sacks, and would be a nice veteran leader in that room for Detroit's young players upfront, along with Michael Brockers. He's played in 136 career games with 78 starts and hasn't missed a game since 2017.
View photos of the defensive backs at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.
8. WR Christian Kirk, Arizona
Kirk would give the Lions an infusion of speed and a deep threat. He brings some inside/outside position versatility and is only 25 years old. Kirk caught a career-high 77 passes on 103 targets for 982 yards with five touchdowns, while averaging 12.8 yards per reception.
9. WR Michael Gallup, Dallas
Gallup, 26, is coming off a December ACL tear, but if the Lions are expected to add a receiver in free agency and the draft, they can wait on Gallup and hope he's ready right around the start of the regular season. Gallup has good size (6-1, 198) and has averaged 15.0 yards per reception throughout his career. He's a big-play threat with a 1,000-yard season under his belt.
10. EDGE Emmanuel Ogbah, Miami
Ogbah, 28, has been a good player for a long time and is coming off back-to-back nine-sack seasons in Miami. He's got great size (6-4, 275) and some position versatility. He defended 12 passes last season, which is another tool in his tool belt.