The Lions have already made one major addition to their defense today, but a key returning member of the unit will remain in place. Linebacker Alex Anzalone is re-signing in Detroit on a three-year, $18.75MM contract (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network).
The 28-year-old was set to earn a considerable raise on the open market this year, after his previous time in Detroit consisted of modest, one-year pacts. It was reported after the season ended that a more long-term deal would likely be necessary to keep him in the Motor City. This new contract will comfortably exceed his previous earnings from throughout his career.
Anzalone began his career with the Saints, but he never saw more than a rotational role in New Orleans. That changed immediately upon his first Lions deal, where he saw a snap share of 87%. That figure jumped to 95% in 2022, the first season in which he topped 1,000 snaps. The Florida product responded with a new career-high in tackles (125), adding 1.5 sacks and one interception.
Adding on defense has universally been seen as Detroit’s top priority this offseason, given the shortcomings of the unit in 2022 compared to their efficient offense. The Lions have been active on that side of the ball on Monday, re-signing defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs and agreeing to terms on a deal with Cameron Sutton, one of the top corners available in this year’s free agent class. Keeping Anzalone in the fold represents moves made at all three levels of their defense.
Anzalone will remain atop the linebacker depth chart for Detroit in the coming years, with not much else in place in terms of financial commitments at the position. While that could leave the door open to future additions in free agency or the draft, the team’s top decision amongst their LBs has likely already been made.