5 biggest winners for Detroit Lions early in 2024 free agency

Here are the biggest winners for the Lions so far in free agency.

Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK
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4. David Montgomery

Montgomery had a nice first season with the Lions in 2023 (1,015 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns), including 54 missed tackles forced (seventh-most in the league, according to Pro Football Focus). As expected, running behind one of the best offensive lines in the league, rather than what the Chicago Bears were putting out there early in his career, led to him looking very good. But the missed tackles number shows he maximized his proficiency beyond that.

Even with moving Graham Glasgow over to left guard to accommodate the move, the Lions absolutely upgraded their offensive line by signing Zeitler. Jonah Jackson had a tough 2023 season, so Glasgow looks like an upgrade and he has played left guard before.

Montgomery makes a lot of his living between the tackles, including nine of his 13 rushing scores last season coming behind the left guard to behind the right guard (according to Pro Football Focus). The Lions' offensive line was very good in yards per carry between the tackles last year, as easily expected, but per Next Gen Stats the addition of Zeitler makes them even better.

Montgomery is a sneaky big winner for the Lions from free agency.

3. WR Jameson Williams

Josh Reynolds is all but certainly gone, and the Lions have only re-signed Donovan Peoples-Jones at this point. Wide receiver may be on the radar early in April's draft, but for now (and possibly for good this offseason), the runway is open for Williams to have a third-year breakout.

While the catch and target numbers weren't always big, Williams clearly earned the trust of the Lions' coaching staff down the stretch last season. Head coach Dan Campbell laid out the expectations moving toward the 2024 season.

"By the end of the year, we really felt like he started to come into his own,”Campbell said at the NFL Combine. “He’s going to be push to be a full-time starter now, and that’s what we’re looking for....As long as he gets back and puts the work in like we believe he will because he’s shown that, he’s only going to get better and better and better.”

It's not a stretch to call 2024 a make-or-break year for Williams. As of right now, the opportunity is still fully in front of him to have a big role and realize his potential.