2. OG Halapoulivaati Vaitai
Sometimes it's tough being the proverbial "weak link", but that's what Vaitai is on one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. After missing all of last season due to a back injury he suffered late in the preseason, he took a pay cut and had 2024 (the final year of his original contract) turned into a void year this offseason.
Vaitai said he considered retirement while he was sidelined, but decided he could not leave his teammates and Dan Campbell. You know what they say about "if you've considered retiring".....then you're already retired, as a practical matter.
To be fair Vaitai does not appear to have one foot out the door after weighing retirement, as he re-stakes his claim to the right guard spot for the Lions. But he is very likely entering his last season in Detroit. And even if he's not entering his last year as a Lion, staying healthy and playing fairly well this year will be key to his getting his career back on course moving forward.
1. QB Jared Goff
Goff is obviously No. 1 on this list. Coming off one of the best seasons of his career in 2022, the heat is on him to have a repeat (or something close) in 2023. Reverting to the form from the end of his time with the Rams, and much of his first year with the Lions in 2021, is not an option if the Lions are going to meet expectations this year.
Goff, under contract through 2024, is also in line for a contract extension soon. If the Lions want to keep him around that is, which may be driven by what they see from rookie Hendon Hooker behind the scenes this year.
This season, Goff could set himself up to be the Lions' longer-term quarterback (he'll turn 29 in October). Or, he'll push the Lions toward replacing him without a second thought in 2024. There's really no in-between, though there's a chance Goff could play out his contract before continuing his career elsewhere.