The Detroit Lions have now added another former Patriot to help transition the Motor City’s defense over to Matt Patricia’s new multiple defensive scheme.
One of the lingering concerns about this Detroit Lions roster heading into training camp was the interior of their defensive line. The Lions lost All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to the Philadephia Eagles via free agency earlier this year. And Detroit struggled mightily when Ngata was lost for the season last year after suffering a bicep injury in Week Five.
In his place, former second-round pick A’Shawn Robinson tried his best to fill Ngata’s massive shoes. This offseason, the Lions addressed their interior defensive line needs by trading away Akeem Spence to the Miami Dolphins, signing free agent Sylvester Williams and drafting Alabama defensive end De’Shawn Hand in the fourth round.
This left Detroit with Robinson, Williams, Hand and 2017 sixth rounder Jeremiah Ledbetter as the Lions likely depth chart at defensive tackle this upcoming season.
Now, another name can be added to that list. After months of speculation, the Lions have finally signed former New England Patriots defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois to a one-year deal. The signing was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The 31-year old Jean-Francois is entering his 10th season in the NFL. He began his pro career as a seventh-round selection out of LSU back in 2009. Jean-Francois played his first four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.
Since then, the journeyman defender has played for the Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers and, of course, the Patriots. His best season came in 2014 with the Colts when he recorded 28 combined tackles, four pass deflections, and 3.0 sacks.
Last March, the 6-foot-3, 313 pound Jean-Francois signed a one-year deal with the Packers. He posted two tackles in six games and was released in November. The Pats signed him less than a week later and Ricky played in six regular season games for New England, recording 10 tackles in that span.
Jean-Francois also played in all three of New England’s postseason contests, including the Super Bowl. He actually started against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship game and recorded five combined tackles.
The Lions newest signing compared learning Patricia’s complicated defensive playbook last season to learning another language. The veteran defender’s experience in New England will undoubtedly help him make a smooth transition in Detroit. And Jean-Francois will likely see significant snaps in a position of need for the Motor City as a result.
On an interesting note, Ricky Jean-Francois currently owns 10 Dunkin Donuts franchises and he is hoping to have up as many as 30 stores up and running within the next couple years.