As the Detroit Lions enter the offseason, management will have to make a multitude of decisions.
Here’s SI All Lions’ ranking of the Lions’ restricted and unrestricted free agents, as well as a list of exclusive rights free agents.
19. DT Joel Heath
2021 stats: DNP
Analysis: Heath did not play in 2021, suffering a torn ACL during the organized team activities portion of training camp. The Lions drafted two defensive tackles in 2021, and could address the position more in the offseason, leaving little need for Heath.
18. LB Shaun Dion Hamilton
2021 stats: DNP
Analysis: Another player who suffered a season-ending injury before the season started, Hamilton hasn’t gotten a chance to prove his value to the public. The Alabama product has started seven games in his career, but won’t be high on the team’s priority list after being unable to show his skills in game action.
17. Nick Williams
2021 stats: 27 tackles, four TFL, 0.5 sack
Analysis: At age 31, Williams started all 17 games for Detroit. It was his second season with the Lions, and he has been a consistent veteran presence. However, with the team looking to load up on talent in the near future, the veteran may not be a part of the long-term plans.
16. S C.J. Moore
2021 stats: 14 tackles, one INT, one rush, 28 yards
Analysis: The third-year safety fell out of the defensive rotation in the secondary, with the emergence of Dean Marlowe. He did still contribute on special teams, including a long run on a fake punt, and grabbed an interception in the season finale. He could be a candidate to return if it’s on a cheap deal, but he remains largely unproven.
15. OT Will Holden
2021 stats: 14 games, one start, one sack allowed
Analysis: Drafted by Arizona, Detroit marks the fourth stop in Holden's career. With the offensive line decimated by injuries, he got a chance to contribute. While he was serviceable, the Lions are set to return a large number of O-line options, and may opt against keeping the Vanderbilt product.
14. OT Tyrell Crosby
2021 stats: DNP
Analysis: Set to be the team’s swing tackle, Crosby was waived at the conclusion of the preseason, and spent the season on IR with a back injury. Matt Nelson took over Crosby's role, and was a quality contributor. This could mean the end of Crosby’s time in Detroit.
13. QB David Blough
2021 stats: One game
Analysis: Blough began the 2021 regular season as the backup quarterback after Tim Boyle was placed on IR. However, Boyle reclaimed the spot upon his return from injury, and wound up making three starts. Plenty of questions remain at quarterback, including whether or not Holmes will keep both backups entering contract years.
12. LB Josh Woods
2021 stats: 21 tackles, two TFL
Analysis: Another position decimated by injuries necessitated Woods getting some playing time. He performed in adequate fashion, while also getting some run on special teams. However, the Lions have other options to consider that could leave him as the odd man out.
11. QB Tim Boyle
2021 stats: Three starts, 61-for-94, 526 yards, three touchdowns, six interceptions
Analysis: With Jared Goff sidelined three separate times, Boyle got a chance to make an impact in regular season games. While he showed flashes of being a capable starter, he couldn’t lead the team to a win. The Lions could certainly opt to bring him back in the backup role, but his fate could be sealed if Holmes elects to take a QB in the draft.
10. WR KhaDarel Hodge
2021 stats: 13 catches, 157 yards
Analysis: After two Lions starters suffered season-ending injuries, Hodge was forced to step up and contribute. The special teams ace had flashes of stardom, including an outstanding catch in Week 17 against Seattle. He makes for an interesting decision for management, as his value on special teams could make him an asset.
9. S Dean Marlowe
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2021 stats: 65 tackles, one fumble recovery
Analysis: Marlowe was picked up in the offseason, and wound up being a mainstay in the secondary. His veteran presence as a sixth-year player was helpful, and he remained healthy, playing in 16 of the 17 games. The Lions have other decisions to make at the position, but could elect to bring him back on another short deal.
8. FB Jason Cabinda
2021 stats: Three rushes, 23 yards, four catches, 16 yards, TD
Analysis: Cabinda is a clear favorite of head coach Dan Campbell, and can do several things for Detroit’s offense. Some believe the fullback position is dying, but Cabinda brings plenty as a blocker that should warrant a return in 2022.
7. WR Josh Reynolds
2021 stats: 19 catches, 306 yards, two TDs
Analysis: A midseason addition via the waiver wire, Reynolds provided a shot in the arm for a Lions offense that was sputtering. He’s a tall, vertical threat who can certainly be an asset. His chemistry with Goff and athletic ability could be helpful, as the team tries to stock the talent cupboard.
6. C Evan Brown
2021 stats: 16 games, one sack allowed
Analysis: With All-Pro center Frank Ragnow done for the season following a Week 4 injury, Brown was forced to take the reins of the offensive line. He did an adequate job, setting up the running lanes for Detroit’s numerous backs. He played well enough to warrant an extension, and could be a part of the Lions’ returning O-line core in 2022.
5. WR Kalif Raymond
2021 stats: 48 catches, 576 yards, four TDs, four rushes, 28 yards, 21 punt returns, 236 yards
Analysis: The speedster made an impact in a variety of ways in his first year as a Lion. The wideout did a number of things, especially late in the season when Campbell found his footing as a play-caller. There’s a premium on speed in the NFL, which should create an opportunity for him to return.
4. LB Alex Anzalone
2021 stats: 78 tackles, one TFL, one sack, one INT
Analysis: Coming from New Orleans, Anzalone was thrust into a starting role right away in Motown. He proved to be what the team needed, taking over the defensive play-calling duties while becoming a solid member of the defensive unit. He suffered a season-ending injury in Week 15, and it’s up in the air whether he will return next season.
3. LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin
2021 stats: 72 tackles, four TFL, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery
Analysis: After beginning his career as a special teams contributor, the coaching change to Campbell resulted in an increased workload for the Tennessee product. Reeves-Maybin became a mainstay in the linebacking corps, starting 11 games.
He took over as the defensive play-caller on the field, following Anzalone’s injury, and proved to be worthy of the role. There will be a stable role for the fifth-year player, should he decide to return.
2. DE Charles Harris
2021 stats: 65 tackles, 10 TFL, 7.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery
Analysis: The former first-round pick found a role that fits him in Detroit. With starter Romeo Okwara suffering a season-ending injury in Week 4, Harris was given an opportunity to contribute. He took advantage, and may have played himself into a substantial raise.
Re-signing Harris should be a priority for Lions management, as it looks to build a winner. He’s a capable pass rusher who could prove to be a steal, should he stack another good year in 2022.
1. S Tracy Walker III
2021 stats: 105 tackles, three TFL, one sack, one INT
Analysis: Walker has grown into the best draft pick of the previous regime, establishing himself as a top player on Detroit’s defense. He had a solid 2021 season, making plays in both the pass and run game.
The Louisiana product was able to return to his natural free safety position, after spending the 2020 season at strong safety. He’s an asset the Lions would benefit from having back, but he will likely draw attention from elsewhere and could pursue his options.
Below is a list of Detroit’s Exclusive Rights free agents: