3. DL Michael Brockers
Brockers was acquired in the second trade the Lions made with the Rams last offseason, on the idea he’d bring a veteran presence to a young team that needed one (he’s currently the only Lion who is over 30 years old). He did that, but on the field he was not very impactful (one sack, four tackles for loss, one quarterback hit, five pressures). Take into account his reduced snaps shares as the season went on, and younger players in search of opportunity (Levi Onwuzurike in particular) and there’s a recipe to be cut.
It’ll be way easier for the Lions to cut Brockers in 2023, from a cap perspective, when he’s entering the final year of his contract. But a post-June 1 cut this year lowers a dead money hit to below $6 million, so the move would not be out of the question if it comes to that point.
2. EDGE Julian Okwara
Finally mostly healthy last season (13 games played), Okwara showed his pass rushing potential (five sacks, nine quarterback hits and 14 pressures over 362 snaps). A third-round pick in 2020, the younger Okwara’s first season was mostly nil due to injuries.
Okwara (245 pounds) looks the part of a 3-4 outside linebacker with the skill set to match. How he fits as the Lions move toward using more four-man defensive fronts automatically looks iffy, unless he can add weight. Or, he could make the move to being more of an off-the-ball linebacker.
Then there’s a numbers game to navigate among Lions’ edge rushers (Aidan Hutchinson, Charles Harris, Josh Paschal, Romeo Okwara, James Houston?, Austin Bryant?).
Even if the Lions’ defensive coaches believe in his potential, Okwara could be on the outside looking it at some point. Any further struggles to stay healthy may seal his fate.