3 Detroit Lions free agents who could be forced into retirement

These three free agents probably won't be coming back with the Detroit Lions , and there's a chance their NFL careers are just going to be over.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
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2. DE Charles Harris

This one might feel aggressive, but stick with me.

In his first season as a Lion, 2021, Harris rescued his career from the land of first-round draft busts (No. 22 overall by the Miami Dolphins in 2017) with a team-high 7.5 sacks. But it was only a brief life line.

An injury ultimately landed Harris on IR in 2022, but when he was on the field he was not impactful (one sack in six games). He started last season in a notable role, but being a healthy scratch in Week 7 was a big foreshadowing of what was to come.

Harris would be a healthy scratch three more times in the regular season, while playing a total of just 65 defensive snaps in the seven games he did suit up for (11 snaps over the last three). Then he was a healthy scratch in all three of the Lions' playoff games.

The Lions' struggles to generate pass rush off the edge outside of Aidan Hutchinson last season begged for someone else to step up. Harris was eventually rendered a complete non-entity on that front, for whatever reasons we may never fully know. But we can guess it had something to do with his practice effort, perhaps in light of a role that was being reduced before the first time he was a healthy scratch. If you don't bring it in practice on a regular basis for this Lions' coaching staff, you will not play.

Harris has had one good season in seven NFL campaigns. That it came when his career was on the ropes, and the Lions were in the first year of a rebuild, feels telling. He may sign somewhere (i.e. not Detroit), on a similar deal to his first with the Lions. But there's some chance his career will be rendered over by what the other 31 teams tell him on the open market.