5 grossly underpaid Detroit Lions players in 2024

The financial piper will be paid on some guys in time, but these five Lions players fall firmly in the underpaid category this year.
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
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At the core of the Detroit Lions' rise over the last couple seasons is excellent work in the draft. Brad Holmes is building things "the right way", around young talent with veteran acquisitions that fit the mold they're looking for to supplement that core.

The benefit of drafting well is also financial. Players on rookie contracts are cheaper, and even as the NFL salary cap perpetually rises there will always be value in having a bunch of good young players.

Of course on the back side of that is having to pay those good young players when the get to their second contract, and maybe having to make some difficult decisions. The Lions are already experiencing that side of things, as they doled out big contracts to wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and right tackle Penei Sewell this offseason. There are more to come (Aidan Hutchinson, Alim McNeill, Sam LaPorta, Brian Branch).

For this year though, with very few big salary cap hits on the books, these five Lions' players look very underpaid.

5 Detroit Lions who are grossly underpaid in 2024

5. OG Kevin Zeitler

After the departure of Jonah Jackson in free agency, the Lions found a way to upgrade their offensive line by signing Zeitler. Coming off his first career Pro Bowl appearance last year with the Baltimore Ravens, the veteran right guard has 181 starts on his resume. In five of the last six seasons he has been a top-15 graded guard by Pro Football Focus, and he has had a pass blocking of at least 75 in nine of the last 10 seasons (81.8 or higher seven times in that span.

The 34-year old Zeitler also signed a one-year, $5.94 million deal to come to the Detroit. That's a remarkable bargain for someone who has shown no great signs of a looming drop-off in performance, and even if he does show some erosion this year the Lions only committed for that one year.