Detroit Lions have opportunity to go all-in and upgrade safety spot

The Lions have a depth issue at safety, if nothing else, but could they go all-in to upgrade the situation?
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Offseason maneuvering, as C.J. Gardner-Johnson inevitably departed in free agency and Tracy Walker was cut due to primarily to have an outsized 2024 cap number, has left the Detroit Lions with a depth issue at safety. Kerby Joseph and Ifeatu Melifonwu are the projected starters, with the recently re-signed C.J. Moore and 2023 UDFA Brandon Joseph behind them.

There is talk about Brian Branch seeing more time at safety, and the Lions' additions at cornerback this offseason opens that door. But it also feels foolish to move Branch off the slot corner role he was so good in last season in a noticeable way.

Adding another veteran safety could be in play for the Lions, if only for depth purposes. Options for a notable move to add someone are automatically thin now, but there is one possibility out there.

Lions trade rumors: Could Detroit go all-in to upgrade safety spot?

Bleacher Report has pointed to six NFL veterans who should be pursued in trades. Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker lands on the list, after asking for a trade last offseason and still without a contract extension entering the final year of his current deal.

Among the three proposed suitors for Baker is the Lions.

"Unlike Baltimore, Detroit can afford to make this happen easily financially and on the field. The Lions currently have the fourth-most cap space available (about $31.1 million) and the Cardinal would be an upgrade over Kerby Joseph. Also, the organization is in a spot where it can take on a one-and-done contract as the team is eying a Super Bowl run."
-Matt Holder, Bleacher Report

The Lions can take on Baker's $19.025 million cap hit with room to spare, and what they would actually take on would be less due to prorated signing bonus that would stay with the Cardinals. And even in a down year last year, as he missed five games with a hamstring strain, he was still plenty productive (87 total tackles) with an overall PFF grade (64.8) nearly 10 points better than Kerby Joseph's (56.5).

Baker also missed the final two games of the 2022 season with a fractured shoulder, and at 28 years old an argument could be made that his peak days are behind him. His skill set may also overlap too much with Melifonwu, as a safety who can play in the box and be an effective blitzer.

It's worth noting that Melifonwu, while he did play every game last year, has yet to stay fully healthy for an entire season in his three NFL campaigns. Joseph also will be out until training camp after having offseason hip surgery.

General manager Brad Holmes is generally averse to making splashy "all-in" kind of moves. But until Baker is traded, which still seems like the mostly likely scenario, he will linger as a potential option if the Lions think they have a question mark at safety.


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