5 free agents the Detroit Lions could still sign before the 2023 season starts

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
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Detroit Lions, Kyle Van Noy
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5. C/OG Pat Elflein

A former third-round pick by the Minnesota Vikings, Elflein spent the last two seasons with the Carolina Panthers. Both seasons were impacted by injury (hamstring in 2021, hip in 2022), as he totaled 15 starts between center and left guard. Overall, he has 64 starts in 65 career games.

That versatility, even if Elflein has been competent (at best) more than really good at either spot he played, is what would appeal to the Lions. As Frank Ragnow deals with an ongoing toe issue, the drop-off could be very steep if he had to miss time. Graham Glasgow could step in, or move over if he wins the starting job at right guard, but he has a rough last couple seasons himself.

In the name of competition, with nothing promised him, a flier on Elflein is palatable for the Lions.

4. LB Kyle Van Noy

Van Noy made our list of former Lions who were surprisingly still free agents heading into this month. Upon further review, he actually could be a really nice fit for the 2023 Lions as a versatile piece for defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and a veteran leader.

Van Noy spent his first two-plus NFL seasons in Detroit, before being traded to the New England Patriots during the 2016 campaign. He played in New England for four full seasons, with a 2020 campaign with the Miami Dolphins in-between, before signing with the Los Angeles Chargers last offseason.

Van Noy has been an off-the-ball linebacker and an edge rusher during his 10-year career. He played in all 17 games for the Chargers last year (70 percent snap share, 13 starts), with 46 total tackles (eight tackles for loss), five sacks and 14 quarterback pressures. In 2021 for the Patriots, he posted five sacks along with top-notch coverage numbers (69.3 passer rating allowed, 10 pass breakups).

Van Noy may still find an opportunity for a notable role somewhere, and somewhere other than Detroit might offer a better opportunity along that line. But the Lions should broadly have some interest here.