PFF's best free agent signing by the Lions in 2023 is probably not who you think

The Detroit Lions made some nice moves in 2023 free agency, but Pro Football Focus' highest graded signing is probably not who you think.

Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes has a calculated approach to free agency, but in 2023 he was a little more aggressive to address needs. There was a notable miss, at least one year in (cornerback Cameron Sutton), but there were some nice hits too (David Montgomery, Graham Glasgow, Jalen Reeves-Maybin).

Glasgow was a particular bargain on a one-year deal. Then he had arguably the best season of his career, and was a top-10 graded guard by Pro Football Focus. He was open about wanting to make a little more money as he hits the market again, but it's more likely than not he'll be re-signed.

Reeves-Maybin has already been rewarded with a two-year contract extension after earning a Pro Bowl nod as a special teamer. He was also excellent when called upon to play defensive snaps.

Montgomery missed three games last season, but he still topped 1,000 yards on the ground with 13 touchdowns.

Pro Football Focus' highest graded 2023 free agency signing for the Lions is not who you think

As mentioned, Glasgow was tied for PFF's eight-highest graded guard for last season grade, and tied for 16th among all interior offensive lineman. Reeves-Maybin's defensive grade, counting the playoffs, was excellent (88.9). Montgomery posted a high grade among running backs as well.

With 2024 free agency getting closer, PFF listed out their highest-graded 2023 free agent signing for each NFL team, based on last season's grade of course.

For the Lions it has to be Glasgow, right?

Nope, it's Montgomery, with a 79.6 overall grade beating out Glasgow's 74.9 overall grade. And it wasn't all due to the upgrade to running behind Detroit's offensive line.

"The move from Chicago to Detroit helped facilitate the highest-graded rushing season (83.4) of Montgomery’s career. His nearly 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns were both career highs for the dynamic back, while his 54 forced missed tackles ranked ninth at the position this past season."

On the idea Jamaal Williams might go elsewhere, and even as contract talks were apparently going nowhere with him, it was hard to see Montgomery as a replacement option for the Lions. But they pivoted quickly to him, and got a better running back. If that wasn't clear in the moment, and it wasn't to some people, it was proven all season. PFF's grade is only a cherry on top.

5 potential pivots for Detroit Lions if Graham Glasgow leaves in free agency. 5 potential pivots for Detroit Lions if Graham Glasgow leaves in free agency. dark. Next