More tea leaves point to Jonah Jackson leaving the Detroit Lions in free agency

It has seemed pretty likely as time has gone on, but if the guard market explodes Jonah Jackson will surely be leaving the Lions in free agency.
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As he entered the final year of his contract last offseason, Jonah Jackson offered the obvious sentiment that he'd like to spend his entire career with the Detroit Lions. But things can and do change. And Jackson had a less than ideal contract year, missing time with a couple injuries and not playing as well as he had previously when he was on the field.

The Lions are not in cap trouble, quite the contrary actually. But they do have some big contract extensions coming and it will hard to pay everyone. The team and Jackson, per Adam Caplan of Pro Football Network, did not get close to reaching a deal before last season started.

The idea Jackson will leave the Lions in free agency is not a fresh one. He should still command a pretty good contract on the open market, assuming the Lions don't re-sign him before free agency starts the week of March 11.

Recent reports only bolster the idea Jackson will be in a different uniform in 2024 (and beyond).

Potential for massive guard market stands to price Lions out of keeping Jonah Jackson

On Saturday, Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News (subscription required) reported Jackson is among the top free agent targets for the Giants. We have the Giants on our list of potential landing spots for Jackson.

ESPN published a roundup of buzz from the NFL Combine via Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler on Sunday morning. Fowler pointed to guard as a "surprise big money position".

"So many teams need them and have targeted the position, and Detroit’s Jonah Jackson, Miami’s Robert Hunt, New England’s Mike Onwenu, and the Los Angeles Rams' Kevin Dotson are among the top options,” Fowler wrote. “Don’t be surprised if some or all from this group command $16 million or more.”

It's possible the Lions continue to heavily invest in their offensive line. Left tackle Taylor Decker may get a contract extension. Penei Sewell is set for a huge pay day soon and center Frank Ragnow is among the highest-paid at his position. But if Jackson's market stretches toward $15 or $16 million a year, that may be a bridge too far.

If Jackson can get the kind of money Fowler suggested, or close to it, he should absolutely take it. He's just not very likely to get it from the Lions.

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