June 13, 2024

Michigan’s Allen Park Coach Dan Campbell loved to tell his players that their roster was designed for this when the Detroit Lions overcame hardships and history in the final stretch of the 2023 campaign. He wished to remind every player in that locker room that he and general manager Brad Holmes had personally chosen them for their physical and mental toughness, their capacity to overcome hardship, and their football playing prowess.

Patrick Reusse says Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell is an . . .

But, Campbell’s next task has been made public, demonstrating that the Lions are designed to compete at this level year after year, even after the team was eliminated from the playoffs and missed out on the franchise’s first Super Bowl participation. “I believe the main objective was to establish a core with specific guidelines,” Campbell stated on Monday from the Allen Park team’s facilities. “Obviously, they’ve got to be good players, and we have that, but they’ve got to be a certain way, and there’s got to be a certain mindset and a certain identity.”

The Lions can take comfort in the knowledge that the nucleus of the squad is unlikely to change significantly this offseason. The majority of their top players, including seasoned starters like quarterback Jared Goff and linebacker Alex Anzalone, up-and-coming talents like Penei Sewell, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Aidan Hutchinson, and seasoned offensive linemen like Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker, who would be valuable additions to any foundation, have contracts that expire after this season.

But every offseason inevitably brings with it change. Twenty players, or about one-third of the squad, are unrestricted free agents for the team. While many will not be retained, some will. Both new signings and draft selections will be made. However, Campbell made it apparent that the primary consideration for each of those new players brought to the mix will be their cultural fit. “We’ve got to add more talent, more competition that thinks the same way that group of guys in that locker room does,” Campbell stated. It is not negotiable. No amount of skill is sufficient to justify bringing anything that is incongruent with our mission. Thus, that’s really crucial.

There is a lot of overlap in the answers provided by the locker room veterans when you ask them about the process of selecting a guy that fits. Work ethic is emphasized by Anzalone, Ragnow, and Decker as the most important quality. “I kind of look at it like an old-school player, guys that relish putting in the hours and the hard work to be able to put yourself in a position to be successful when it comes to game day,” Decker stated.

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