3. DT Michael Brockers
Yes, Brockers apparently provided great value during the Lions’ second half surge this season as a veteran leader, mentor and an example to the team’s young defensive lineman. But the brass tacks of his situation are this.
Brockers played in one game after the Lions’ Week 6 bye–12 snaps against the New York Giants in Week 11, when the defensive line was thin on healthy bodies and a short week was also ahead. In 2021, his role was reduced as the season went on and he was not very good when he did play in his first season as a Lion. No longer working next to Aaron Donald on the same defensive line would bring a drop-off for a lot of guys though.
It’s also worth noting how good the Lions’ run defense got when Brockers did not play, with the significant exceptions of Week 16 against the Carolina Panthers and the first quarter of Week 17 when Bears quarterback Justin Fields ran a little wild. That doesn’t feel like an accident, as Isaiah Buggs had some good run effectively in Brockers’ place on the Lions’ interior line.
The Lions can cut Brockers (pre or post-June 1) and clear $10 million of his $13.975 million 2023 cap hit off the books. If that doesn’t happen, it will be surprising. Intangibles don’t pay the proverbial on-field bills. Brockers has not delivered over two seasons in Detroit, and he was a healthy scratch for most of when the team was at its best over the final 10 games this year.