Lions To Prioritize Cornerback Additions

The Lions are expected to address their cornerback position in a significant way this offseason, as Adam Caplan of Pro Football Network writes. GM Brad Holmes has nearly $60MM in cap space to work with — the seventh-highest figure in the league — and while he will have extensions for quarterback Jared Goff and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown as top agenda items this offseason, he should have the wherewithal to add to his CB crop in free agency. It would also not be suprising to see the Lions add a cornerback in the early rounds of the upcoming draft.

At present, the Lions’ only boundary corner who has meaningful starting experience and who is still under contract is Cameron Sutton, who signed a three-year, $33MM deal last March as part of Holmes’ efforts to fortify a defense that finished last in the league in total yardage allowed in 2022 and third-worst in terms of pass yardage. Sutton, however, had an uneven first season in Detroit, allowing a completion rate of 67%, a quarterback rating of 112.3, and generally struggling to cover top wideouts.

Holmes also took a one-year flier on Emmanuel Moseley, but Moseley suffered an ACL tear in October in his first game with the Lions. Ultimately, while Detroit came devastatingly close to a Super Bowl appearance, its success came in spite of its pass defense, which yielded the sixth-most passing yards per game. Indeed, the team relied on Kindle Vildor — who was released from the Eagles’ taxi squad in November — as a starter for the final two games of the regular season and all three playoff contests.

While division rival Jaylon Johnson is the top cornerback eligible for unrestricted free agency, the Bears are likely to put the franchise tag on Johnson to keep him off the market. A tag may also await Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, though if Kansas City allows him to test the FA waters, the Lions would surely be interested. Other notable players who could be available for Holmes include Kendall Fuller, Chidobe Awuzie, Stephon Gilmore — older brother of Steven Gilmore, who signed with the Lions as a UDFA last year and who stuck on the roster throughout the 2023 campaign — and Adoree’ Jackson.

The top cornerback prospects who could pique Holmes’ interest and who may be available when the Lions are on the clock with the No. 30 overall selection include Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell, Missouri’s Ennis Rakestraw Jr., and Iowa’s Cooper DeJean. Given the current state of Detroit’s depth chart, Holmes may add multiple CBs in the draft while making at least one FA splash at the position.

Jerry Jacobs, who finished the 2023 season on IR, is eligible for restricted free agency. He has started 29 games for the Lions since joining the team as a UDFA in 2021 but looms as a non-tender candidate.

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