5 realistic free agents the Lions could sign in 2024

The Detroit Lions may or may not make a big splash in free agency, but here are five players they could realistically sign.

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2. EDGE Za'Darius Smith

Smith fell from 10 sacks and a Pro Bowl selection with the Minnesota Vikings in 2022 to 5.5 sacks with the Cleveland Browns in 2023. But the deeper numbers (pressure and hits) don't correlate with that drop-off, and he also played almost 200 fewer snaps over the same number of games. His Pro Football Focus grades remained strong (90.2 pass rush grade, 68.2 run defense grade).

Lions' fans are certainly also familiar with Smith from his time with the Green Bay Packers, notably including two big seasons (13.5 sacks in 2019, 12.5 sacks in 2020). He's a capable veteran, and the only time he missed significant time in his career was 2021 (one game played due to a back injury). As Jeff Risdon of Lions Wire noted, he plays with discipline and might be looking for a shot at winning a Super Bowl as he surveys his free agency options.

Smith's will turn 32 in September (Sept. 8), so that's probably why he's not getting a ton of buzz on the free agent market right now. It also sets him up to be a bargain for someone, on a one or at most a two-year deal. As the Lions possibly eye multiple moves to overhaul their edge rusher group beyond Aidan Hutchinson, there's a realistic fit here.