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TWENTYMAN: 10 free agents that could interest Lions

The official start of the new league year and free agency is one week away, and that's when the retooling of Detroit's 2024 roster can officially begin for Lions general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell.

Holmes said after the season his goal in free agency is to re-sign their own players first. He said that in doing so the Lions might not be big players in the unrestricted free-agent market, but there could be room under the cap for both.

The NFL increased the salary cap for the 2024 season by a record-setting $30 million, which gives general managers like Holmes some added flexibility.

"Yeah, it was a little surprising," Holmes said at the NFL Scouting Combine last week of the salary cap increase. "I didn't know it was going to go to where it went, but we've already made the necessary adjustments in our planning and budgeting.

"I give those guys a lot of credit, Mike Disner and Brandon Sosna, they do a great job, our football admin crew, but we've already been at work at making those adjustments. And it's good flexibility to have. There's some advantages there, but again, you still got to be smart."

With that being said, here is my list of 10 potential free agents that could interest the Lions:

1. Edge Jonathan Greenard, Houston

Greenard, 26, would be a perfect fit opposite Aidan Hutchinson along Detroit's defensive front. He tallied 12.5 sacks for the Texans last season and was sixth among all edge rushers with a 19 percent pass-rush win rate. He's also good against the run, which is a must playing in Detroit. He and Will Anderson Jr. were a terrific edge duo for the Texans last season.

View photos of the defensive backs at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine.

2. CB Kendall Fuller, Washington

Fuller is a crafty eight-year veteran who had the 13th best coverage grade among all cornerbacks last season, per Pro Football Focus. He can play inside and outside and even has some experience at safety. Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn loves that kind of versatility, and Fuller would add another experienced veteran to the mix in Detroit.

3. Edge Dorance Armstrong, Dallas

Armstrong was a rotational player along the Cowboys' defensive line, playing 42 percent of their snaps on defense this past year, but his production warrants a chance as a starter somewhere else. Armstrong had 7.5 sacks in 2023 and 8.5 in 2022 playing just 47 percent of the snaps on defense. At 6-foot-4, 255 pounds he'd be a nice fit opposite Hutchinson.

4. DT Denico Autry, Tennessee

Autry will be 34 in July, but there has been no slowing down for him heading into Year 11. He recorded 11.5 sacks playing under new Lions run game coordinator and defensive line coach Terrell Williams last season in Tennessee. Autry has 28.5 sacks over the last three seasons.

5. G Robert Hunt, Miami

Will the Lions be able to re-sign both Jonah Jackson and Graham Glasgow? That would probably be the preferred method, but if not they could look to sign another veteran. At 6-foot-6 and 335 pounds, Hunt got his NFL start at tackle, lining up on either side in his rookie season. He found a home for the past three seasons at right guard. The Lions would value his versatility upfront.

6. OLB Andrew Van Ginkel, Miami

Maybe this is just selfishly wanting to listen in on a best hair argument in the locker room between Van Ginkel and Alex Anzalone, but Van Ginkel (6-4, 242) is a versatile player any defense would like to have with his ability to play the edge and in space. He's also a core special teamer. He had 6.0 sacks this past season to go with 69 tackles, a pick six and 19 quarterback hits.

7. Edge rusher Mike Danna, Kansas City

Danna's reps increased every year in Kansas City, maxing out at 74 percent of the defensive snaps this past season. He was a key player on the Chiefs' front with 50 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 13 quarterback hits and 6.5 sacks this past season.

View photos of the offensive linemen at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine.

8. CB Stephon Gilmore, Dallas

Gilmore is a crafty veteran who might be willing to take a one-year deal in Detroit to make a run at the Super Bowl and play alongside younger brother Steven. Teams completed just 56.8 percent of their passes thrown Gilmore's way last season in Dallas.

9. DE Danielle Hunter, Minnesota

I think his price range might ultimately be too much for Detroit knowing they have to take care of Hutchinson in a year or two. Hunter had 70-plus pressures and 16.5 sacks last season. The Lions could take one of the best defensive players from a division rival and make Hunter & Hutchinson one of the best edge duos in the NFL.

10. CB Chidobe Awuzie, Cincinnati

Awuzie was one of the best cornerbacks in football the first half of the 2022 season before tearing an ACL. Teams completed only 38 percent of their passes against him with a 53.4 rating the first eight games of that season before suffering the knee injury. He's a physical corner who is good against the run with 74 career starts under his belt.

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