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3 quick Detroit Lions fixes to make team a legit NFL Playoff contender

NFL: Detroit Lions at New York Giants

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

Detroit has been much more competitive than most figured heading into the season. It has a nice group of young skill-position players and a quarterback in Jared Goff who is playing much better than anticipated.

With all of that said, Detroit finds itself at 4-7 and pretty much completely out of the NFC Playoff race after Week 12. General manager Brad Holmes needs to make a few moves this coming offseason if the Lions are to break their eight-year playoff drought. Here’s a look at three moves that could help expedite this process.

Related: Detroit Lions standing in Sportsnaut’s NFL power rankings

Detroit Lions trade Jared Goff

detroit lions trade jared goff
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Has Goff played well enough this season for another team to bite in a trade? Through 11 games, we’re certainly leaning in that direction. He has a $30.3 million cap hit for next season, upon which an acquiring team would be on the hook for a mere $20.65 million. As of right now, that’d come in at 14th among NFL quarterbacks.

Those aren’t elite numbers. But Goff has proven that he can be among the top-16 quarterbacks in the NFL. Teams such as the Houston Texans, New York Jets, New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders would take that. In turn, Detroit lands a mid-round selection in 2023 and a conditional pick in 2024 to help add more talent to its roster.

Related: Updated 2023 NFL mock draft

Detroit Lions use Los Angeles Rams’ draft pick on a quarterback

detroit lions draft picks
Matt Stone/Louisville Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

As of right now, the first-round selection Detroit acquired in the Matthew Stafford blockbuster would be No. 3 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. Talk about an absolute steal given how Stafford has played this season.

It puts the Lions in a great position to add a potential franchise quarterback at the top of the draft next spring. Someone like Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud could slip to three. If not, Detroit could exhaust more future draft capital to trade up from the third selection. If not, Kentucky quarterback Will Levis could make sense. He’s been flying up the draft board recently. In this scenario, Detroit hits the NFL free agent market for a stopgap option with someone like Jimmy Garoppolo being ideal.

Related: Sportsnaut’s NFL Playoff and Super Bowl predictions

Detroit Lions trade their first-round pick for proven talent

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

As noted above, the Lions have a ton of top-end young talent on offense. That includes rookie wide receiver Jameson Williams as well as stud young pass-catcher Amon-Ra St. Brown. Despite dealing with some injuries this season, running back D’Andre Swift also looks very much the part.

It’s in this that Detroit should use its first-round pick (currently 12th overall) to find more top-tier defensive talent to team up with Aidan Hutchinson. We’re talking a major blockbuster like acquiring stud edge rusher Brian Burns from the Carolina Panthers. Detroit would still have two second-round picks as a way to add more young talent to the mix. It just makes too much sense.

The Lions are not as far away from playoff contention as it seems on the surface. They are a talented young team that boasts a head coach in Dan Campbell that players love going to war for. It’s now up to the front office to continue adding talent to this roster. These three moves would make Detroit instant playoff contenders in 2023.

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