Detroit Lions: 3 free-agent running backs with ties to new regime

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff, running back Malcolm Brown (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff, running back Malcolm Brown (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Detroit Lions appear to have drafted their running back of the future in the second round last year. The Lions made Georgia’s D’Andre Swift the 35th overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Swift rewarded the Lions’ faith by racking up 521 rushing yards and 10 total touchdowns averaging 4.6 yards per carry despite only starting four games as a rookie. The 22-year old also proved to be a reliable receiving option, recording 46 catches for 357 yards.

But despite that soild performance, new Lions’ offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn confirmed the team will look to add another running back to pair with Swift this upcoming season. If the new regime in the Motor City looks to their former NFL teams for a familiar name, here are three free-agent running backs with ties to the new staff in Detroit.

Malcolm Brown

Running back Malcolm Brown is coming off a career-performance for the Los Angeles Rams. He posted career-highs in carries (101), rushing yards (419), and receptions (23) in his sixth NFL season, all of which has been spent with the Rams.

Having played with quarterback Jared Goff and new general manager Brad Holmes in Los Angeles, it’s a good bet that Brown is on Detroit’s radar as a potential target in free agency next month.

Ty Montgomery

LIons’ fans know Ty Montgomery as the wide receiver-turned-running back who made a name for himself with their NFC North rivals, the Green Bay Packers. After spending more than three years with the Pack, Montgomery bounced around the league a bit before landing with the New Orleans Saints in 2020.

The former third-round selection proved his worth with the Saints, rushing for105 yards on 18 carries in the Saints’ 33-7 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Week 17. Lions’ new head coach, Dan Campbell, spent the past five years as the assistant head coach in New Orleans and could be looking to bring the veteran back into the division.

Kalen Ballage

A fourth-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, Kalen Ballage spent his first two NFL seasons with the Miami Dolphins. But the 25-year old struggled in his first six starts, averaging a lowly1.8 yards per carry in 2019. After a failed trade attempt, Ballage signed with the New York Jets last year but was waived in early October.

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The Los Angeles Chargers, who had new Lions’ offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn as their head coach at the time, signed Ballage and he ended up starting two games and rushing for 290 yards and three touchdowns on 88 total carries. Perhaps Lynn will want to continue that experiment in Detroit now that Ballage is set to become a free agent.