Last offseason, Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes quickly went to work to remodel a secondary that needed a remodel. Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley and C.J. Gardner-Johnson were signed within the first week of free agency. In the draft came Brian Branch in the second round.
Moseley has some setbacks as he worked his way back from a torn ACL, then he tore his other ACL two snaps into his Lions' debut. Gardner-Johnson suffered a torn pectoral in Week 2. Sutton was not very impactful in his first season as a Lion, and he was an outright liability far too often.
Getting down to it, Sutton is just not a No. 1 cornerback. This offseason, finding someone who is has to be a priority for Holmes. And with the sixth-most cap space in the league right now ($58.6 million, according to Over The Cap), money will not be much of an object to pursue one in free agency.
Lions predicted to take a big swing in free agency for a No. 1 cornerback
Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports has an early prediction of landing spots for 2024 free agents from playoff teams who have been eliminated short of the Super Bowl.
Of course, he has the Lions getting a coveted No. 1 cornerback-Stephon Gilmore.
"The longtime cover man returned to Pro Bowl form in 2023, but with Trevon Diggs and Deron Bland in tow, Dallas may prefer allocating top dollar to other spots. Detroit, meanwhile, has cash to spend and a sore need at the spot. Projected team: Lions."
After being acquired from the Indianapolis Colts last offseason, Gilmore had 68 total tackles, two interceptions, 13 pass breakups for the Cowboys this season. He allowed a 55.8 percent completion rate and a 82.7 passer rating, on 95 targets. Pro Football Focus graded him No. 31 among eligible cornerbacks.
Gilmore has become well-traveled in recent years, going from the Patriots to the Panthers in 2021 and being traded by the Colts to the Cowboys last offseason. He's headed for his fifth team in as many seasons in 2024.
Gilmore suffered a dislocated right shoulder in Dallas' regular season finale, but he already has had surgery and it shouldn't impact his availability for the start of next season at all.
A big thing with Gilmore is his age. He's 33, and he'll turn 34 early next season (Sept. 19). But he's still better than anyone the Lions have at cornerback right now, and if the price is right he should be on their radar heading toward free agency.
On the idea a big multi-year deal probably isn't happening for Gilmore this offseason, Spotrac has a one-year, $11.1 million deal projected for him right now. That is definitely in the Lions' wheelhouse, and leaves the door open for to add another cornerback, a longer-term answer, in the draft.