5 Detroit Lions players who won't be back for the 2024 season

Now that the offseason is starting for the Detroit Lions, here are five players who won't back on the team next season.
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2. OG Halapoulivaati Vaitai

The last significant free agency vestige of the Bob Quinn/Matt Patricia era (a five-year, $45 million deal in 2020), Vaitai missed all of last season with a back issue that required surgery. He acknowledged that he considered retirement during his recovery, but he ultimately took a big pay cut last offseason and had what would have been the final year of his original deal turned into a void year.

Vaitai started this season healthy and back as the Lions' starting right guard as he "won" a competition with Graham Glasgow. That turned out not to be much of an actual competition, as Glasgow took practice reps at center to give Frank Ragnow some rest in camp.

But a knee injury in Week 2 opened the door for Glasgow to take the job, and he never gave it back. Vaitai returned to the starting lineup in Week 7, as injuries forced Glasgow to move around the offensive line, but a recurrence of his back issue ended his season in November.

Vaitai will be a free agent now. If he thought about retiring last offseason, it's fair to assume the recurrence of his back issue will have him thinking hard about retirement again this offseason. On the open market, two straight seasons impacted by a back injury will limit his number of suitors and he won't get more than a cheap, no-risk one-year deal.

That last point regarding what his market will bear theoretically keeps the door open for "Big V" to be back with the Lions next season-if he wants to keep playing. But via an early offseason decision to retire, or the rest of the league telling him its time, Vaitai's NFL career might be over. His career in Detroit is surely done no matter what, unfortunately.