Jalen Reeves-Maybin looking like a priority free agent for the Lions

Jalen Reeves-Maybin has become an important player for the Lions’ defense, and it sounds like re-signing him will be a top offseason priority.

Over his first four seasons with the Detroit Lions, Jalen Reeves-Maybin was a special teams standout with a minimal role on the defense. In the first two games this season, he played a total of five defensive snaps.

But the Lions’ release of Jamie Collins opened up an opportunity, and Reeves-Maybin has started the last nine games he has played with a least a 40 percent snap share in each of his last 11. In Week 16 against the Atlanta Falcons, he played every defensive snap for the first time in his career and had a key late forced fumble that gave the Lions the ball back quickly with a chance to win.

Reeves-Maybin is fourth on the team right now with 67 tackles. Over the last two games, with Alex Anzalone injured and now out for the season, Reeves-Maybin has taken over “green-dot” duties, relaying defensive play calls.

Jalen Reeves-Maybin looking to be priority for Lions to re-sign

Reeves-Maybin is slated to be an unrestricted free agent in March. The Lions want him back, and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn spoke to an opportunity that could be in front of him if he comes back.

“He will have his chance to be our starting inside linebacker,” Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn promised Thursday. “He’s had a great year. Still has a ways to go, but we’re excited about that player.” “Obviously, we want the player back,” Glenn stated. “because he’s a good player.”

For his part, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Reeves-Maybin said there are no ongoing talks about a contract extension but is open to returning “as long as the math is mathing.”

And that’s what it will come down to–matching up what Reeves-Maybin will be looking for in years and money with what the Lions are willing to (and reasonably should) do to pay him. More than two years will be a stretch, and the cost should not be more than $3-$4 million per year (with guaranteed money fit into the equation too). The Lions should not let the coaching staff’s open affinity for him cause an overpay, but it’s becoming clear Reeves-Maybin is wanted back badly.