Detroit Lions News: Stephon Gilmore To The Lions? Lions Free Agency Winners + Justin Fields Traded

Lions Nation Unite
The Detroit Lions have made their initial moves in free agency, and the impact of their additions (and subtractions) will have a ripple effect across the roster. For example, the addition of a guy like DJ Reader is bound to have an impact on everyone else on the defensive line. Whereas, the loss of Jonah Jackson could have a negative impact on several players.

But, for now, let’s focus on the positive. Here are four “winners” on the Lions roster who will benefit from the moves made thus far in free agency.

Brodric Martin
Some may think the addition of Reader shows a lack of faith in the Lions’ 2023 third-round pick but I don’t see it that way. This coaching staff has often made it a priority to surround their young players with a talented veteran to help aid their development. Alim McNeill acknowledged having Michael Brockers around helped him approach the game differently. Alex Anzalone has been key in leading an extremely young linebacker group. Teddy Bridgewater was added to help Hendon Hooker (and Jameson Williams) along.

Now the Lions are giving Martin the same treatment. When I asked Reader if the Lions had approached him about mentoring Martin, his eyes lit up.

“I can’t wait to get my hands on him, just talk to him,” Reader said. “Talk to him about ball, how to play this position. Especially that nose guard position. It’s a unique position. There’s a right way to do it, there’s a wrong way to do it. And there’s just things you can learn that’ll help you out—especially, (since) you can’t be asked to take on double teams all the time.

“So hopefully I can help him a lot. I’m going to be in his ear about it. Whether he’s going to want to hear it or not, I’m going to be in his ear, just trying to help and pushing him to be better, because you want your team to be in a great spot.”

Aidan Hutchinson
Martin isn’t the only one who will benefit from Reader’s addition. The Lions have lacked an interior push for years, which makes life tough for an edge rusher. Players like Hutchinson rack up pressures all the time, but if the opposing quarterback has a lane to escape up the middle with no interior pass rush, it won’t result in a sack.

Reader may not have a ton of sacks on his resume (9.5 sacks over eight years) but don’t read that as he doesn’t impact the passing game. He does. And pairing him with Alim McNeill means Detroit can still generate pressure on early downs without sacrificing their run defense.

Hutchinson should also benefit from the signing of edge defender Marcus Davenport, who could command some extra attention if he can recapture some of his old magic.

Jameson Williams
At the NFL Combine, Lions coach Dan Campbell expressed a ton of optimism about Williams’ development in 2023. The 2022 first-round pick finished the season strongly and showed that he can be a more consistent player beyond just the big, flashy plays. Campbell’s expectation is for him to be a full-time starter in 2024.

“He is going to push to be a full-time starter now, and that’s what we’re looking for,” Campbell said. “We’ve said it before: everybody grows at a different rate, and maybe it’s taken him a little bit longer, but he is developing and he’s growing and he is certainly one of the team. The kid’s come on. So we’ve got high hopes for him, we see him continuing to grow as long as he gets back and puts the work in—like we believe he will—because he’s shown that. He’s only going to get better and better and better.”

That may all be true, but Detroit certainly had an opportunity to give him some competition in free agency. They didn’t. There are still some talented receivers out there, Detroit could re-sign Josh Reynolds, or they may invest in the position at the NFL Draft, but for now, the opportunity is all of Williams to take that next step to be a true difference-maker in Detroit.

Cameron Sutton
Sutton’s first year in Detroit was a tough one. By just about every metric—be it PFF grade or passer rating allowed—it was his worst season since his first couple of years in the NFL when he was only a depth player.

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