The Detroit Lions have notably added pieces in free agency, but one sneaky departure has been tabbed as their biggest loss.
In free agency this year, it has been mostly about adding for the Detroit Lions. Some may want to lament the loss of wide receiver DJ Chark, but that’s a very small fly in the ointment of a remodeled secondary and an upgrade to the lead back role.
It’s not that the Lions haven’t lost players, with safety DeShon Elliott and some other background players finding new teams. But one loss in particularly, even with a noteworthy addition to theoretically replace him, stands out.
Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus has named each NFL team’s biggest loss in free agency. The list was posted the same day the Lions lost Chark to the Carolina Panthers, and before the news surfaced. But Detroit’s biggest loss would not have changed with that development.
Evan Brown named Detroit Lions biggest loss in 2023 free agency
Offensive lineman Evan Brown signed a free agent deal with the Seattle Seahawks. He started 12 games at center for the Lions in place of an injured Frank Ragnow in 2021, then he started 12 games again last season, with 11 at right guard as Halapoulivaati Vaitai missed the whole season with a back injury.
Spielberger makes a good case for Brown as the Lions’ biggest loss in free agency.
An underrated part of the Lions’ excellent free agency thus far is that they either had an in-house replacement for every player they lost or signed someone to fill that void. This applies to Brown, as well, but he provided solid interior offensive line depth with the flexibility to play at all three spots, though he was best suited at center.
Brown earned a 72.4 pass-blocking grade while starting most of the season at center in 2021 and was a shrewd addition among many such signings by the Seattle Seahawks.
The Lions have brought back Graham Glasgow as a theoretical replacement for Brown’s interior line utility. But he has a good chance to beat out Vaitai for the starting job at right guard, which would then leave the Lions without the total versatile depth value Brown offered. That said, pieces can be moved around in the case of an injury (Glasgow to center or left guard, as an example), and overall depth seems like an asset for the Lions offensive line with Vaitai able to play right tackle if needed.
It seems once the Lions knew Brown was going elsewhere, they pivoted quickly to Glasgow to mitigate (if not eliminate) the impact of the loss. That alone points to how well they’ve done in free agency this year.