The Detroit Lions will likely be somewhere in the market for a quarterback come the offseason, and they’ve landed on a list of 2023 landing spots for a signal caller in the midst of a surprising showing this year.
It goes without saying the Detroit Lions will be in the mix for a new quarterback in 2023. Having two first-round picks, including one courtesy of the Los Angeles Rams that’s looking pretty good these days, will be helpful to getting a young quarterback and injecting some upside into their depth chart at the most important position on the field.
But could the Lions also sign a veteran free agent quarterback in March? They can cut ties with Jared Goff for a reasonable dead money hit ($10 million, via Over The Cap) while clearing $20.65 million in cap space. Pairing a cheaper veteran with a rookie quarterback is would be a nice reset of the depth chart, after two years of Goff/Tim Boyle/Nate Sudfeld.
Do Detroit Lions make sense as a landing spot for a veteran quarterback in the midst of a bounceback season?
If not for Drew Lock being sidelined by a bout with COVID-19 during the preseason, Geno Smith may not be the Seattle Seahawks starting quarterback right now. It’s quite possible Lock would have been benched for poor performance if he had won the job, and Smith would’ve replaced him very quickly. But it’s an interesting what-if, as Smith has led the Seahawks to a 6-4 record and is leading the league with a 72.8 percent completion rate.
Smith is also set to be a free agent in the offseason. It’s fair to assume the Seahawks will want him back, unless things go completely off the rails over the rest of the season. But other teams will have interest.
Jake Rajala of Pro Football Mania has listed some possible 2023 landing spots for Smith. Here’s his case for the Lions.
"I simply love the Lions youthful group of weapons, but they don’t have a major threat at QB. Jared Goff has been a pleasant, underrated signal-caller in 2022, but I don’t believe he’s the right face to duel the 8-1 Minnesota Vikings & proceed to win a Lombardi trophy. If DET garners a QB like Smith in the upcoming off-season, they could certainly sneak into the NFC playoff gauntlet next season and make a stronger climb above the Packers team that should witness A-Rod retire or leave soon."
Cap space shouldn’t be an issue for the Lions, with $29.55 million right now (according to Over The Cap) and moves beyond Goff to clear more. Smith is in line for a nice multi-year deal based on his play this season, and one NFL GM offered a per year number to Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports recently.
"I think $30 [million] to $35 million a season is about right,” one general manager said. “Although it wouldn’t surprise me if they used the franchise tag on him just to take it one more year to be sure.”"
The Seahawks could franchise tag Smith and make other free agent destinations a moot point. As Robinson noted, Over the Cap has estimated him performing at a level worthy of $38.4 million salary this year as the Seahawks entered their Week 11 bye. Spotrac’s current market value contract projection is at $27.1 million per year. That $38.4 million number would be a top-10 quarterback salary in the NFL this year.
There’s no way Smith will get $38 million per year in a new contract come March. $27 million per year even feels pretty rich, based on three-quarters of a good season (to this point) at age-32.
The Lions make some sense to be interested in Smith, in a big picture way. But at what the cost might be, if the Seahawks even let him hit the open market, Smith won’t be on the radar in Detroit very long–if he is (or will be) at all.