The Detroit Lions have made some big moves in 2023 NFL free agency. The Lions’ free agent signings include linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, and running back David Montgomery. However, the sneakiest Lions free agency move is signing cornerback Emmanuel Moseley away from the San Francisco 49ers.
Emmanuel Moseley is the sneakiest Lions’ free agent signing
In the 2021 offseason, the Lions concentrated on the offensive side of the ball. The team traded Matthew Stafford for Jarred Goff, drafted offensive lineman Penei Sewell and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, and signed running back Jamaal Williams in NFL free agency.
The next summer, it was the defense — specifically the defensive line and pass rush — that got most of the attention. Detroit signed few Lions free agents last offseason, instead concentrating on the draft, where front seven players Aidan Hutchinson, Josh Paschal, Malcolm Rodriguez, and James Houston all came to town.
This offseason, the Lions of putting the finishing touches on the team by concentrating on the secondary and the defensive back seven.
Three of the Lions’ free agent signings are defensive backs in 2023. There’s cornerback Cam Sutton from the Pittsburgh Steelers, hybrid DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson from the Philadelphia Eagles, and Emmanuel Mosely from the 49ers.
Of those three, Sutton is getting $11 million per year, Gardner-Johnson is getting $6.5 million, and Mosely is getting $6 million. Although Mosely will have the smallest paycheck, he is the key to the secondary in 2023.
First, getting him on a one-year, $6 million deal is a steal for a young (27), versatile CB in his prime. The Lions got this deal because Moseley is coming off an ACL injury that ended his season last year after just five games.
If Moseley returns to full health, this is a Lions free-agency coup. And if he doesn’t, the risk wasn’t that big. From a talent perspective, the possible reward is high.
After playing 10 games in two years, 2020 No. 3 overall pick, CB Jeff Okudah, finally stayed healthy, playing 15 games for the Lions in 2022. Lions’ free agency in 2023 is all about getting him some help.
The big helpers are Sutton and Gardner-Johnson. Both are proven NFL veterans who know what it takes to create a winning secondary. The best thing about these two, though, is their versatility.
Sutton is a corner who can play on the boundary or in the slot. He can follow his receiver all over the field or bump one way or the other to get the best of matchups. It’s the same thing with Gardner-Johnson. He’s an excellent slot corner and an even better safety.
Like his two new Lions teammates, Emmanuel Moseley can also play more than one spot. The 5-foot-11 cover man can play inside or outside as well, which is why this is such a sneaky-good signing for the Lions in 2023 NFL free agency.
With a corner like Mosley who is not tied to one side or one spot, it frees up the rest of the secondary, especially Sutton and Gardner-Johnson to line up wherever defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn thinks they fit best on a given series or play.
There is a trickle-down effect to this as well. With the defensive backs able to cover any spot needed, that frees up new LB Tremaine Edmunds to roam sideline-to-sideline and do what he does best.
And most importantly, it gives the pass-rushers more time to get home.
Last season, the Lions gave up the third-most passing yards in the league and were 18th in the league with 39 sacks. This is despite the fact that the two of the rookie pass rushers, Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston, both had excellent debut seasons with 9.5 and 8.0 sacks, respectively.
If Emmanuel Mosely and the rest of the defensive backfield can cover WRs for a few seconds longer and let the Lions’ now-fearsome pass rush work for just a bit more time, the team’s sack numbers could skyrocket this season, and the passing yards could go way down.
And this is the key to the Lions making the playoffs next season.
Detroit scored 453 points last season and allowed 427. A positive 26-point differential is better than the negative alternative, but it’s going to get you to right around .500 and on the border of the playoffs, just like it did last season.
This year, if the Lions can keep the offense rolling and shave some points off that defensive total to get closer to the top teams in the league, that is a recipe for the playoffs. And with the Lions’ free agent signings in 2023, like the sneaky Emmanuel Moseley deal, this is a real possibility.
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