It's been a while since Detroit has been an attractive free-agent destination.
This isn't entirely uncommon in the NFL, where there are the haves and have-nots who can switch places rather quickly thanks to the relative parity achieved by the salary cap. Detroit has found itself in the group looking to leap up into the contending class, and while the Lions are not yet there, their new staff sees the club turning the corner based on how it fared in free agency.
"I think we've tried to create a narrative here of what we're trying to build and what we want to do. They do their homework, too. These players do their homework," Lions coach Dan Campbell said Monday. "They've got mutual contacts, they've got coaches that know coaches, they've got players that have played under those coaches. So I think just that combination of what we've begun to build here, the vibe that I think people are starting to catch up on a little bit here and then I think that's where my staff and myself, we can kind of gain an advantage or have a little bit. That's encouraging, that's what you want.
"All these guys that we've signed, salary aside, they're fired up to be here. It's a genuine excitement. Look, you can call it... There's a little bit of a leap of faith on their part. Shoot, man, we appreciate that. But it kind of tells us that we feel like we're going in the right direction."
Signing with the Lions is a leap of faith of sorts, considering the franchise fired its former head coach during the regular season and hasn't posted a winning record since 2017. On the list of desirable teams, the Lions' recent performance hasn't helped them land among the best.
Detroit didn't make many splash signings, either, with running back Jamaal Williams leading the pack in terms of notoriety. But Campbell isn't out for a splash -- he's out to redirect the franchise toward success.
That turn will require some players, like Williams, to take the aforementioned leap of faith. In an offseason in which a reduced cap limited most teams' ability to woo talent with dollars, Detroit didn't have deep pockets to show off to desired additions. The Lions looked for players "with something to prove," Campbell said, which makes sense, considering he also has something to prove as a rookie head coach.
Among those acquired with something to prove is quarterback Jared Goff, who was cast aside by the team that once spent the No. 1 pick on him. Now, he leads a band of hungry players aiming to create new narratives for themselves in the Motor City.
With a coaching staff filled with former NFL players, the new Lions arrivals will find their leaders share commonalities with them. They'll get their first chance to prove it was the right call to move to Michigan this fall.