Aidan Hutchinson had a banner second season for the Detroit Lions, with 11.5 sacks, over 100 quarterback pressures (according to Pro Football Focus) and 14 tackles for loss. But no one else on the team had more than five sacks, and no other edge rusher had more than two.
At the Pro Bowl Games last weekend, Hutchinson said he feels like he has "many levels to unlock."
Part of Hutchinson reaching another level is rooted in better consistency. A tentacle of that is there being someone on the other edge who can put pressure on opposing quarterbacks consistently. A healthy James Houston next season would help that, but a move to add an edge rusher has to be on the radar for general manager Brad Holmes. What that will look like is naturally unknown right now.
Blockbuster trade proposal lands Lions top edge rusher to go with Aidan Hutchinson
The Lions of course fell just short of reach the Super Bowl this year, losing the NFC Championship by three points. The list of big offseason needs is not long, so moves to foster that "next step" could be a particular focus.
Alex Kay of Bleacher Report has a list of "2024 NFL Offseason Trades to Create the Next Super Bowl Contenders." The Lions clearly fit the bill of a Super Bowl contender for next season, so Kay has a trade proposal involving them.
Detroit Lions Receive: Edge Joey Bosa
Los Angeles Chargers Receive: 2024 first-round pick (No. 29 overall)
"Joey Bosa would be the perfect target for Detroit. He's not only an elite pass-rusher who has racked up a commendable 67 sacks across his first 93 career games, but he's also a tough, hard-working talent who would be an ideal cultural fit among the gritty group head coach Dan Campbell has assembled."
-Alex Kay, Bleacher Report
Holmes hangs onto draft picks as if they're gold, and with his track record over three drafts why wouldn't he? But during his season-ending press conference, he did seem to suggest trading out of the first round would be an option.
"If we trade out of the first. I'll just send a memo", Holmes said.
But what about trading the No. 29 overall pick for a proven commodity like Bosa?
A foot injury ended Bosa's 2023 season in November. In nine games, he had 6.5 sacks, 15 pressures and six tackles for loss. He also missed significant time in 2022 with a groin injury that required surgery, suiting up for just five games. He'll turn 29 in July, so durability concerns aren't going away.
The Chargers have a lot of work to do get under the salary cap, currently $45.8 million over a $242 million projected cap for 2024 according to Over The Cap. Bosa has the second-highest 2024 cap hit on the roster ($34.6 million), so he's an easy release or trade candidate. The structure of his five-year, $135 million deal with leave them with a big chunk of dead money not matter how they might part ways with him this offseason. A $7 million roster bonus due to him on March 16 is worth noting.
How many years does Joey Bosa have left on his contract?
Bosa also currently has a $32.97 million cap hit for 2025, the final year of his contract. But the Lions would not acquire the bonus money he has already received, totaling about $22.2 million in cap implications over the next two years that would stay with the Chargers (signing bonus proration).
Kay mentioned Bosa's previous acknowledgement that his championship window is closing, while offering up the idea Bosa could willingly rework his contract to facilitate a trade.
So while it seems unlikely the Lions would make a big move to acquire someone like Bosa, making a deal for him could become more financially palatable. In a broad sense, there should be some early interest from Detroit's end in the effort to find a capable edge rusher to pair with Hutchinson.