4. QB Jared Goff
Goff is locked in as the Lions’ starting quarterback for 2022. His nice finish to 2021 offers some hope he turned a corner, and better structure around him will foster the idea it’s sustainable. A contract restructure after getting him in the Stafford, deal, with the idea of reducing his 2021 cap hit, made it practically impossible to move on from him this offseason. But in 2023, as has been written plenty in this space, the path to move on is far easier.
A pre-June 1 (2023) cut would allow the Lions to clear $20.65 million of Goff’s cap hit, according to Over The Cap, with $10 million left in dead money. A trade does the same, and a post-June 1 cut or trade would make it $5 million in dead money.
The Lions should be looking at a new starting quarterback for 2023, one way or another, unless Goff has a level in him he has yet to show and it comes out in 2022. I almost talked myself into that last point, but Goff should be entering his second and last season with the Lions.
3. LB Alex Anzalone
The Lions had two unrestricted free agent linebackers this offseason. With cost in mind, they re-signed Anzalone on a cheap one-year deal and let Jalen Reeves-Maybin go to the Houston Texans for what was surely a far better deal than they were willing to entertain.
Anzalone wore the green-dot as the defensive signal caller when he was healthy last season. The Lions surely value that a lot, given what they currently have at linebacker from an experience playing in the system standpoint. But he is quite simply a backup/special teams-caliber talent, with surface stats and deeper analytics to prove it.
Replacing Anzalone, at least on the surface, would have been easy this offseason. Next offseason, the Lions will be in a better position to let him go and do it.