3 quick Detroit Lions fixes to make the team a true NFL playoff contender

NFL: Detroit Lions at New York Giants
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions saw their three-game winning streak come to an end with a narrow loss to a superior Buffalo Bills squad on Thanksgiving.

Detroit started the season a lot more competitive than most thought. It has a nice group of young players in skill position and a quarterback in Jared Goff who is playing much better than expected.

Despite everything, Detroit is 4-7 and is pretty much completely out of the NFC playoff race after week 12. General manager Brad Holmes needs to make a few moves in the upcoming offseason if the Lions are to end their eight-year playoff drought. Here’s a look at three steps that might help speed up that process.

Also see: The Detroit Lions rank in Sportsnaut’s NFL Achievement Rankings

The Detroit Lions are trading Jared Goff

Detroit Lions trade Jared Goff
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Has Goff played well enough this season for another team to bite into a trade? In 11 games, we’re certainly leaning in that direction. He has a $30.3 million cap hit for next season that would have an acquiring team on the hook for just $20.65 million. Right now, that would rank 14th among NFL quarterbacks.

These are not elite numbers. But Goff has proven he can be among the NFL’s top 16 quarterbacks. Teams like the Houston Texans, New York Jets, New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders would adopt that. In return, Detroit lands a mid-round pick in 2023 and a conditional pick in 2024 to add more talent to its roster.

Related: Updated 2023 NFL Mock Draft

The Detroit Lions used the Los Angeles Rams’ draft pick against a quarterback

Detroit Lions draft picks
Matt Stone/Louisville Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK

As of now would be the first round pick Detroit earned in the Matthew Stafford blockbuster No. 3 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. Talk about an absolute steal considering how Stafford have played this season.

It puts the Lions in a great position to pick a potential franchise quarterback at the top of the draft next spring. Someone like Bryce Young from Alabama or CJ Stroud from Ohio State could slip to three. If not, Detroit could be venting more future draft funds to act on the third pick. If not, Kentucky quarterback Will Levis might make sense. He was recently promoted to the draft committee. In this scenario, Detroit hits the NFL free agent market for a stopgap, with someone like Jimmy Garoppolo being ideal.

Also see: NFL Playoff and Super Bowl Predictions by Sportsnaut

The Detroit Lions are trading their first-round picks for proven talent

NFL: Detroit Lions vs Carolina Panthers
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

As mentioned above, the Lions have a lot of young top talent on offense. These include rookie wide receiver Jameson Williams and young passcatcher Amon-Ra St. Brown. Despite a few injuries this season, running back D’Andre Swift is also looking very good.

This is where Detroit should use their first-round picks (currently 12th overall) to find more high-profile defensive talent to team up with Aidan Hutchinson. We’re talking about a big blockbuster like the acquisition of stud edge rusher Brian Burns from the Carolina Panthers. Detroit would still have two second-round picks to bring more young talent into the mix. It just makes too much sense.

The Lions aren’t as far from the playoffs as it seems on the surface. They’re a talented young team with a head coach in Dan Campbell, who the players are happy to go to war for. It is now up to the front office to continue adding talent to this list. Those three moves would make Detroit instant playoff contenders in 2023.

Source