Breaking Down the Detroit Lions 2023 Free Agency Moves

Breaking Down the Detroit Lions 2023 Free Agency Moves


Breaking Down the Detroit Lions 2023 Free Agency Moves


Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The new NFL league year commenced last Wednesday, and NFL teams could finally begin their 2023 preparations. The negotiation period opened last Monday, and the Detroit Lions jumped into action ahead of a huge offseason. Here is a breakdown of what Brad Holmes’ team did. 


The Big Splash

After struggling in the secondary last season, the Lions wasted no time bolstering their cornerback room. Detroit signed cornerback Cam Sutton to a three-year contract worth $33 million. The 28-year-old is guaranteed $22.5 million and got a signing bonus of $10.9 million. On average, Sutton will earn $11 million yearly. Sutton, a six-year veteran, has started 39 games in his career and has played at a high level as a starter in the last two seasons. In 2022, the then Pittsburgh Steeler allowed just 32 receptions on 72 targets.

Moreover, Sutton allowed just six receiving yards per target in 2022. Based on the production, it is unsurprising that Detroit completed this deal in 90 minutes. Add Sutton’s positional versatility, and the Lions landed their premier player. Having lost Darius Slay and missing on veteran flops Desmond Trufant and Justin Coleman, the Lions needed to add a top-tier cornerback with starting experience. 

The Lions were the first team to call Sutton, and the Tennessee alum quickly reiterated that he signed for the Lions to win things; “The organization is ready to turn the hump. Regardless of what you may see or what you may think or any of that stuff, we’re here to play. We’re not here just to show up and be in this building and just say we’re a part of this league. We’re here to leave our mark. And again, we’re right there.” 


A New Engine and More Depth

The Lions chose not to wait for Jamaal Williams as they snapped up former Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery. Detroit signed Montgomery to a three-year, $18 million contract. Montgomery is guaranteed $11 million, and the contract is structured so both parties can exit ahead of year three. 

As a runner, Montgomery is a bruising, one-cut runner with a penchant for forcing missed tackles. Head coach Dan Campbell has often noted Montgomery’s explosive ability to get North/South in a hurry. Aidan Hutchinson labeled Montgomery as the most challenging running back to tackle. Losing Williams was a blow, but Montgomery is a true three-down back with relentless power and desire to crash through contact. 

The Lions buttressed their top free-agent acquisitions with the signings of Emmanuel Moseley and Graham Glasgow. Detroit signed Moseley to a one-year $6 million contract and handed Glasgow a one-year $4 million deal. Both these players provide Detroit with valuable depth and starting experience. Mosley, in particular, adds more options to an area where the Lions are short. 


The Re-Signings 

As has been the case in the Brad Holmes era, the Lions re-signed several key contributors from last season. Craig Reynolds, Ross Pierschbacher, Matt Nelson, Isaiah Buggs, John Cominsky, Alex Anzalone, Will Harris, and Michael Badgley will return to Detroit in 2023. Defensive captain Anzalone inked an $18.3 million three-year deal. $9 million is guaranteed to Anzalone, and his re-signing represents continuity for the Lions. The Florida product led the Lions in tackles last season and wore the green dot all season. While Anzalone may not be in the top bracket of MIKE linebackers, he is a reliable presence, is experienced, and knows this defense. 

Likewise for John Cominsky. The Commissioner was a menace on the defensive line last season. Cominsky is the embodiment of grit, spirit, and relentlessness. He is versatile and capable of playing in various alignments across the defensive line. The Charleston alum is now a bona fide starter. 



The Lions have followed their MO and acted shrewdly in the opening week of free agency. The total 2023 cap hit for 10 of their signed players is $17.1 million. Several contracts are designed with easier outs and minimal dead cap money. Detroit has been wise with its cap and added starters at cornerback, linebacker, defensive line, and running back. Dan Campbell has stressed building through the draft, and this opening week has set the Lions up for the draft. With five picks in the top 90, Detroit’s opening free-agent moves have given them more options at the end of April. 


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