Tyson Alualu is set to continue his NFL career for a 14th season. The veteran defensive lineman has agreed to a deal with the Lions, his agency announced on Tuesday.
The 36-year-old had spent the past six seasons in Pittsburgh, and he expressed a desire to continue his time with the Steelers this offseason. Instead, he will now head to the Motor City in a bid to carve out a rotational role on the Lions’ defensive front. Justin Rogers of the Detroit News notes Alualu will start on the team’s practice squad, as has become standard practice around the league for midseason additions.
This marks another late-season addition to Detroit’s defense, with Alualu following Bruce Irvin — who is also in his age-36 season — in signing with the NFC North leaders’ practice squad. Irvin made his debut with the Lions in Week 13. While Irvin had made a habit of in-season signings during the 2020s, this is new territory for Alualu. The veteran interior D-lineman played 17 games as a rotational player in Pittsburgh last season.
Over the course of his career, Alualu has played in 191 games and started 111. Although Alualu spent six seasons working alongside Cameron Heyward up front with the Steelers, he was a regular starter with the Jaguars from 2010-16. Pro Football Focus graded Alualu poorly last season but viewed him as one of the NFL’s top D-linemen as recently as 2020. Alualu suffered a season-ending injury during Week 2 of the 2021 season. The Lions will see what the former first-round pick has left in the tank.
Detroit’s latest addition comes after starter Alim McNeill left Sunday’s game due to injury. Dan Campbell said the third-year starter might not be ready in time for Detroit’s Week 14 game against Chicago. McNeill left the Lions-Saints matchup multiple times due to injury, though his practice designation Wednesday will begin to determine how likely a Week 14 absence will be.