Lions reward safety Tracy Walker for rebound season with three-year deal

Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Coming off a rebound season under the new regime, the Detroit Lions are bringing safety Tracy Walker back on a three-year deal.

After being misused by the previous coaching regime in 2020, and he’d hardly be alone in that, Tracy Walker led the Lions in tackles last season with 108. It was a well-timed rebound heading toward free agency, and according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter the Lions have agreed to terms with the veteran safety on a three-year, $25 million deal with $17 million guaranteed.

The Lions drafted Walker in the third round of the 2018 draft out of Louisiana-Lafayette. In his second season, his first as a starter, he broke through with 103 total tackles. Then a changing role under Matt Patricia came in 2020 (seven starts in 15 games, a snap rate a little above 70 percent). Walker proved to be a nice fit in Aaron Glenn’s scheme, which allowed him to play a more traditional free safety role rather than down in the box in matchups he struggled to win the previous season.

Lions show commitment to Tracy Walker as foundational piece of defense

The $8.33 million average annual value in Walker’s new deal, now top-20 among NFL safeties, is about in line with what he was expected to command. But as Justin Rogers of The Detroit News noted, having so much of the deal guaranteed shows the Lions’ commitment to him. How the guarantees are structured, or spread out, will be additionally telling.

Based on his own comments and comments from the coaches as well as general manager Brad Holmes, Walker coming back to the Lions rather than fully hitting the open market always seemed the most likely scenario.

Walker, at 27 years old with four seasons under his belt, is truly a veteran on the Detroit defense. The Lions have secured his services through another chunk of what should be his best years, and it’s a marriage that’s a fit on both sides.

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