5 fringe free agents that the Detroit Lions should be bringing back


The Detroit Lions have a lot of players that are set hit free agency this year. For all the right reasons, the focus has been on guys like C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Jonah Jackson, Graham Glasgow and Josh Reynolds. But there’s some guys that are out there on the fringe that deserve some real consideration. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

I’ve chosen five players that are slipping under the radar that I think the Lions should bring back. The good news is that none of them will cost of boatload of money. Let’s get into it.

Matt Nelson

You might have forgot that Nelson is on the team because he spent the nearly the entire season on injured reserve with an ankle injury he suffered in Week 3. Nelson actually started two games this year. One vs the Seahawks and one vs the Falcons. The latter is the game got hurt in. The start against the Seahawks that he had in relief of Taylor Decker was actually a pretty good performance from him. He allowed two pressures on 66 snaps. 

Nelson is solid depth and he can play both left and right tackle. We know he can play right because he started 11 games there in 2021 when Decker missed the beginning of the season and the Lions put Penei Sewell at left tackle. Nelson should be retained for sure. Especially on a team that had as many offensive line injuries as this one did this season.

Kindle Vildor

I get it. It should have been an interception. It sucks that this freak occurrence had to happen, but that’s sports. That shouldn’t mean that the Lions should move on from Vildor. 

Now, this is not to say that Vildor should be out there starting games for the Lions. They should absolutely be looking for multiple corners this offseason. There’s value in having depth though and Vildor had some good moments that showed that he can be that for the Lions. 

Kahlil Dorsey

The same goes for Dorsey. But more so on the special teams side of things. Dorsey was big help there this year. There were many instances in which Dorsey made a big play on special teams and he should be rewarded for that. He also filled in as a return man when needed and had some solid returns. 

Dorsey is an exclusive rights free agent this offseason, so there’s a solid chance he’s back anyways. 

Anthony Pittman 

Speaking of special teams, Pittman has been a special teams guy for the Lions for the last four seasons. The former Wayne State standout has been a solid player in that area too. He’s not Jalen Reeves-Maybin, but he’s a guy that plays a role there and plays it well. He’s had limited snaps on defense in those four seasons, but when he is out there, he’s had some decent showings.

Pittman is a restricted free agent. Much like Dorsey, there’s a solid chance he’s back anyways. 

Zonovan Knight 

There’s something here with Knight. He hasn’t had the chance to really show it yet, but it’s there. The Jets have to regret letting him go after they signed Dalvin Cook in August. Especially since that didn’t work out and Knight had showed promise for the Jets in 2022. 

The Lions have two very good running backs, but Knight can be that third guy that causes problems for defenses when he hits the field. He has a shiftiness to him that’s very noticeable and he runs hard. 

Knight is an exclusive rights guy too, but that doesn’t make him a lock to make it since the Lions also have Craig Reynolds. I personally think Knight is a guy that could supplant Reynolds if given he shot and the Lions should give him that shot.  

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