Brad Holmes Speaks On 2024 NFL Free Agency & 2024 NFL Draft Strategy

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Last week, the NFL announced that the 2024 salary cap will be set at $255.4 million—an increase that was $10 million more than some projections. While every team is impacted equally by the news, that extra cap space will undoubtedly impact how some teams approach their offseason.

On Monday morning, Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes joined 97.1 The Ticket’s “Costa and Jansen with Heather” show and offered his reaction to the salary cap bump. Holmes noted that his overall plans don’t change that much, particularly when you’re talking about the internal moves that have been planned for months.

“When you’re budgeting in advance for free agency—and especially when you’re looking past (your own free agents)—you probably have a good decision on what you want to do internally with your own players in terms of re-signs and extensions and all that kind of stuff,” Holmes said.

Where this increased budget may impact, however, is the Lions’ scope on the external free agent market. Detroit currently has a healthy budget of $55-ish million, and this salary cap increase could, theoretically, put a couple more targets on the map.

“When you look externally, which I think that’s where you have to be the most careful when you go externally, is (where) you might want to open up,” Holmes said. “Do you want to externally say, ‘Well, we can get another depth player here on external add’? Or do you want to say, ‘Well, we had these handful of players that we were looking to add from an external standpoint? Now that we have this much more available then maybe we can get a bigger fish?’”

The Lions haven’t been the type of team that has chased the biggest fish in free agency. Holmes continually warns that the object of the offseason isn’t to acquire the “big names” and win headlines in March. And when asked directly whether the Lions would pursue some of the biggest players available in free agency, he repeated this mantra of selectiveness.

“It’s going to be the same approach that we’ve always had because I think I said it in that (past) press conference. It’s easy to win headline, it’s easy to win March. That’s easy to win, but, man, we’re trying to win December,” Holmes said. “Those are two different perspectives, and that’s how you’ve got to plan and I think that’s how you’ve got to approach it.”

Holmes also rejected the notion that he’s under more urgency to get things right because of how close the team currently is to a championship. Specifically, Holmes spurred the common narrative of being “one player away” from a Super Bowl.

“We’ll adjust to different circumstances when we need to, but the overall approach, that’s not changing,” Holmes said. “I’m not a big believer in—when you really look deeply into the one player away (mindset), when you look into that narrative, ‘Oh, they’re just one guy away,’ that’s really not realistic. Because what you’re saying is that one player—you might sign that one player in March and that one player looks good in black and white on a depth chart in March and April and all through the summer. What if that one player is not available in October and November and December?”

Other minor notes from Holmes’ radio spot:

He has an idea of where the team wants to go with extensions of players, but will not provide updates on Jared Goff and others’ contract situation until the process is completed.
Holmes more or less reiterated that he will continue to draft based on talent over need. He said free agency is a more needs-based approach than the draft.
Holmes expressed confidence in kicker Michael Badgley but said there will be competition this offseason.
Holmes views the NFL Combine as a way to check athletic boxes but finds more value in the character evaluations through interviews.

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