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Lions Surprising Cut Candidates Going Into The 2023 Offseason

Going into the Detroit Lions’ off-season, there will be 25 players on the free-agent block. It’ll be up to the Lions’ front office to determine who will return for at least another year from that list. With a rollover cap of slightly over $2 million and just under a 2023 dead cap of $300,000, the Lions are poised for a successful off-season.

Detroit should be involved in trade rumors this off-season as they look to build off a somewhat successful 2022-2023 campaign. There were flashes of greatness and flashes of sadness, but Lions fans are used to that. A winning season and finishing second in the NFC North behind the Vikings is just what the doctor ordered. The years of the Packers controlling the North are gone, for now.

DJ Chark, Lions Wide Receiver

The lead receiver for the Lions last season, DJ Chark. He played well, when healthy. With the expected emergence of Jameson Williams, do you pay a guy like Chark another $10 million to play second fiddle or do you release him into the jungle? I say bye Felicia! Chark will be close to turning 27 at the start of next season and hasn’t been a top-20 receiver since his time with Jacksonville back in 2019. Injuries have always followed Chark and he has yet to play a full season in the NFL.

In the 2022-2023 NFL season, Chark had 30 receptions for 502 yards and only three touchdowns. Not the kind of stats you’d expect from your lead receiver that you paid $10 million. There will be a few teams that will take a jab at him this off-season but the Lions should not be one of them. Instead, the Lions should either look to trade or sign for a couple of complementary players, including a tight end after T.J. Hockenson was traded to the Minnesota Vikings mid-season last year. The $10 million hit that Detroit will avoid by not re-signing Chark can be used to sign players that are worth the money.

Alex Anzalone, Lions Linebacker

In Anzalone’s second season with the Lions, he played considerably better than in his first year with the team. He went from 77 tackles to 125 tackles, a fumble recovery, and an interception. Even though he played the best football of his career and played a full season, Anzalone will be a free agent and will be 29 at the start of the next season. He has never gotten paid to be an elite defender in the NFL, nor should he. With that said, I expect Anzalone to chase after the dollar bills and get a higher-paid contract.

Last season, Anzalone made $2.25 million as a 28-year-old linebacker. Not bad for the average human but at some point in your career you need to take a leap of faith and see what the market is willing to pay for your skillset. The team should look toward their future with young guys like Derrick Barnes and Malcolm Rodriguez.

Amani Oruwariye, Lions Cornerback

Amani Oruwariye had a disappointing 2022-2023 NFL season with the Detroit Lions. He started the season as a clear-cut starter in the secondary but that quickly changed throughout the season. His 2021 campaign was the best of his career and he fell back down to earth this past season. He went from 57 to 43 tackles and six interceptions to zero. After four years with Detroit, compiling almost $5.5 million, it’ll be time for Amani and the Lions to part ways. He might be able to revive himself as a depth player for a new team.

Defensive back Jerry Jacobs should be the clear-cut starter going into the next season with Oruwariye out of the picture. Unless Detroit chooses to spend a high pick in the draft or sign a high-profile free agent from another team. There will be a decent-sized market for cornerbacks this off-season. Amani was the oldest cornerback for Detroit last season at the age of 27. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes but don’t expect to see him in Honolulu blue in September.

Jamaal Williams, Lions Running Back

The one free-agent player that I 100 percent expect back is anime-lover Jamaal Williams. Jamaal should be getting a nice, fresh, and juicy contract after another stellar year. After four seasons with Green Bay, Williams started fresh in 2021 with the Lions. The tandem of often-injured D’Andre Swift and Jamaal proved to be a strong duo last season and should continue in the 2023 season. Fantasy football managers who had Jamaal stashed on their bench for bye weeks over the last few years were happy with their return as Jamaal became a top-ten running back in standard formats.

In the 2022-2023 season, Jamaal had his first 1,000-plus rushing season in the NFL! He rushed 262 times for 1,066 yards. At a rate of 4.07 yards per carry, Jamaal was a bulldozer on the field. Oh, and yeah, he also broke Barry Sanders’s rushing touchdown record by crossing the goal line 17 times. Jamaal didn’t stop there, even though Swift was the more elusive receiver, Williams was also useful in the passing game with 12 receptions for 73 yards. Per Spotrac, Williams’s market value will be a two-year contract worth almost $8.5 million. An average of just over $4 million per year.

Detroit Lions: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Detroit’s front office will be busy this off-season as they sort through which of the 25 free agents proved their worth and should return for another year and who should pack their bags and leave Detroit. I expect the front office to retain a high number of free agents just because they can be quality depth spots on the roster and won’t burn the wallet. After a 9-8 season, can the Lions push for the Kings of the North?

 
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