5 free agents Detroit Lions should hone in on as start of league year approaches

As the new league year gets set to officially start, these five free agents should be firmly on the Detroit Lions' radar.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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2. DT D.J. Reader

Reader is an easy and obvious candidate for this list. After a report they had strong interest in him when the negotiation period started, multiple reports say the Lions are having him in for a visit on Thursday.

Reader (335 pounds) looks like an ideal fit next to Alim McNeill on the Lions' interior defensive line. He is stout against the run, and an under-appreciated pass rusher based on low sack production but nice pressure numbers.

The question with Reader, and why he remains available a few days into free agency, is health. His 2023 season ended early (after 14 games) due to a torn right quad tendon, and he had the same injury to the other leg in 2020 that cost him 11 games. He missed six games in 2020 with a knee injury, as he missed a total of seven games that season.

The Lions should have a defensive tackle addition on their radar. If he checks out medically during his visit, Reader might become that addition rather quickly.

1. OG Kevin Zeitler

The Lions surely expected to lose Jackson as the free agent guard market boomed to a point they'd never match what he could get elsewhere. But that also means they have to replace him, and presumably have shaped some sort of plan to do so.

Zeitler has a right guard by trade, for his entire 12-year career, which landed him as a potential pivot option for the Lions if Graham Glasgow had been gone. But he stands as the best available option at guard now, and maybe Glasgow would shift to the left side to accommodate the move. As good as he was a right guard last season, Glasgow started his NFL career in Detroit as the starting left guard for two seasons (2016 and 2017).

Zeitler would be a nice short-term option, surely on a one or two-year deal, as the Lions keep their offensive line one of the best in the NFL while they cultivate younger depth.

Next. Detroit Lions free agency tracker: Who's coming and going in 2024?. Detroit Lions free agency tracker: Who's coming and going in 2024?. dark

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