Detroit Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone is headed for free agency, and his social media post over the weekend seemed to hint at his departure from Detroit.
With a clear nod toward familiarity, as head coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn were on the New Orleans coaching staff, linebacker Alex Anzalone signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions last offseason after four seasons with the Saints.
Anzalone instantly became a key component of the Lions’ defense, registering 78 total tackles and seven passes defensed in 14 games played. Over the first 12 games of the season, he played nearly every defensive snap. A shoulder injury ended his season early, as one of many injuries on the defensive side for the Lions. For what it’s worth, he was the second-worst graded player on the team by Pro Football Focus for the season (h/t to SI.com).
After Week 2 against the Packers, via SI.com, Campbell praised Anzalone.
“I think we’re looking for guys that are going to challenge on the perimeter, and we’re looking for guys that are going to rally to the football,” Campbell said following Week 2. “You watch Alex Anzalone, man, I thought he was all over the field last night. Was it perfect? No, but from point A to point B, he was damn near in on every tackle, and I think that’s the type of guys we’re looking at.”
Anzalone is now headed toward free agency in March. A return to the Lions might feel pretty likely, but….
Did Alex Anzalone hint that he’s leaving the Lions?
Over the weekend, Anzalone reflected on the 2021 season in an Instagram post.
“It was a privilege to play for the Lions organization this year. I truly had one of the most fun seasons playing football in my life despite everything. Being chosen as captain by my peers has been an honor that I’ll never forget. As chapter 5 ends, 6 begins.”
It’s easy to play social media prognosticator, and Anzalone’s use of a black-and-white photo might be seen as a symbol of something meaningful, or ominous in terms of he is signaling he’ll sign elsewhere.
Anzalone is legitimately one of the Lions’ top pending free agents. But it’s also hardly a guarantee he’s back next season, and a starting job would probably not be assured to him if he is re-signed.