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10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: Which free agents should Lions bring back?

Throughout the course of the offseason Tim Twentyman will answer 10 good questions from his Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman."

20man: Here is a complete list of the 28 Lions players headed for free agency when the new league year begins in March.

There are some pretty important names on that list and a number of guys have expressed an interest in returning – John Cominsky, Jamaal Williams, among them -- and I think that will happen for a good number of the keys guys on the list.

Do the Lions view Jameson Williams as their "X" receiver moving forward? That could affect how hard they ultimately try to re-sign DJ Chark, but I really like Chark in this offense. After he returned from missing six games (ankle injury) early in the year, I thought he brought a down-field element to this offense that was really missing.

He's a big receiver at 6-foot-4 and makes tough catches all over the field. That catch down the right sideline vs. Chicago was ridiculous. I think the Lions can do much worse than having a trio of Chark and Williams on the outside with Amon-Ra. St. Brown in the slot with Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond in the mix too.

Chark was on a one-year prove it deal and I thought he showed the rest of the league he's still very much a threat down the field. I suspect there will be a number of teams interested.

20man: I'll preface this by saying GM Brad Holmes has prioritized bringing back his own key free agents first and I expect that to be the case this season, especially with the number of key players and culture fits on Detroit's list.

Holmes saw a need at receiver last offseason and spent on Chark. I think there's a similar need at cornerback this offseason and I wouldn't be surprised if Holmes tries to bring in a young, proven veteran to help shore up that position group.

Aaron Glenn and the defensive staff value versatility. One player I like is Pittsburgh cornerback Cam Sutton. He plays outside but has experience inside as well. He had a 71.0 coverage grade this season and opponents completed just 50.7 percent of the passes thrown his way with a 69.6 rating. He also has a reputation for being a really smart and savvy player.

20man: The Lions sped up their rebuild with the way Holmes has drafted the last two years and the way Dan Campbell and his staff are developing the young guys and quickly making them core pieces. But this roster still isn't to a point where they can bypass more talented players to fill a need. Just overall, as a drafting philosophy no matter the organization, I don't think that's a good strategy anyway.

We've all been pretty impressed by Holmes' two drafts because he's been very good about taking the best talent at those slots as opposed to reaching for need.

20man: This kind of piggy backs off my last answer. I think we can all agree the defense needs the most work. Holmes acknowledged as much in his postseason presser.

"Obviously, our defense was ranked 32nd, so I mean it's pretty obviously that we're going to have to utilize some resources to try and improve that defense," Holmes said.

But again, Holmes won't pass on a higher graded offensive player, say an offensive lineman or a running back at No. 18 to take a defensive player he feels isn't as good of a player just because he plays on the defensive side of the ball and that was an obvious weakness. Holmes is in the business of acquiring the most talented players he can in the draft. I think there will be a highly graded defensive player there for them at No. 6 and that will be the pick, but I think anything is and should be possible at No. 18 if they stay there.

20man: The NFL announced home teams for the five international games in 2023. The only one on the Lions' schedule is Kansas City. The Chiefs will play a game in Germany against an opponent to-be-determined later this spring. New England (Germany), Jacksonville (London), Tennessee (London) and Buffalo (London) will also host international games next season.

The Lions have not played an international game since losing to Kansas City in London, 45-10, in 2015. Detroit seems like a good candidate to play Kansas City in Germany next year given they haven't played internationally in seven years, they're an ascending team in the league, and St. Brown's German heritage would make him a terrific ambassador for the league.

Maybe I should put updating my passport on my to-do list.

20man: I've just started to look at the NFL Draft. That will accelerate in a couple weeks when I go down to Mobile to cover the Senior Bowl.

Initially I'm really liking Jalen Carter's game, the defensive tackle out of Georgia. Pro Football Focus said he's neck and neck with Quinnen Williams for the best defensive tackle prospect they've ever graded. Did you see what Williams did to the rest of the NFL this year?

"Williams was a touch quicker, while Carter is a bit more powerful, but it's darn close. Carter finished 2022 with a Power-Five-leading 92.3 overall grade," PFF wrote of Carter.

It would likely fit both a position of need and best player available scenario for the Lions if they were able to somehow be in a position to select him.

20man: Most certainly. The chemistry was never really there between Goff and Williams those last six games of the season after he retuned from ACL rehab, but I'm not overly surprised by that. Williams missed all those reps in California with the rest of the receivers and Goff last offseason. He missed OTAs, minicamp and all of training camp. That's when rhythm and timing is developed. Now add in the fact that Williams has rare speed and elite athletic traits, and timing is everything between a receiver like him and a quarterback.

I suspect Williams will be one of the first guys Goff calls to invite out to California to work out this offseason. He'll also have a full offseason training program and training camp. I agree with Holmes 100 percent when he said after the season the Williams we saw at the end of this year isn't anything close to the player we'll see to begin 2023 with all the work he'll have in with Goff leading up.

20man: Lions team president Rod Wood said last spring at the annual league meetings the team would consider some uniform changes in 2023 when their window opened to do so. I would expect Wood and the executive team to consider some tweaks and changes. Those would likely be announced in the spring.

20man: We haven't gotten a specific update on Vaitai's health status, but he was around the building and at practice a lot the second half of the season. Back injuries are always a little more concerning just because of their finicky nature sometimes, but Holmes and the Lions should have a good idea by now about his future prognosis and that will play a factor in any decisions on his future.

Count me in the group that would like to see Vaitai return in 2023 if healthy. I thought he played well in 2021 and he's loved by everyone in that room. He's been a big brother to Penei Sewell since he arrived.

Vaitai has a $9.4 million base salary and counts $12.4 million on Detroit's cap next season, per numbers. If cut he'd still count roughly $5.9 million toward the cap and that move would save approximately $6.5 million. I think if Vaitai returns it doesn't exclude the team from drafting a young interior lineman and letting there be more competition in that room. That would only make everyone better.

20man: I do think 2023 will be different and it's because of head coach Dan Campbell. He has a really unique ability to rally a locker room and get the most out of those guys. It's pretty uncanny. It showed me a lot when those guys didn't quit after the 0-10-1 start in 2021. Every man in that locker room knew 1-6 wasn't them early this season and staunchly defended Campbell and the process they were on.

Campbell also isn't afraid to make the tough decisions when things aren't going right. In my 14 years covering this team I've never seen a group of players rally around their head coach and have so much respect for him than this group does for Campbell. A majority of these guys would literally run through a wall for Campbell. That's why I think this is different.

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