Hitting free agency coming off the best season of his career, Alex Anzalone says contract talks with the Detroit Lions have begun.
The Detroit Lions coaches have cited the intangible value linebacker Alex Anzalone brings to the table over the last two seasons. Last season, he delivered better tangible value with a team and career-high 125 tackles along with solid across the board numbers.
For Anzalone, as he enters free agency a third straight year, the iron may never be hotter. He has hinted at seeking a multi-year deal, after playing the last two years with the Lions on one-year pacts.
Anzalone was on the “Ross Tucker Football Podcast” on Tuesday. His free agency situation was a natural topic, and Anzalone said there have been contract talks with the Lions.
"There have been talks with them,” “It’s just… everything is going to unfold in the next few weeks, so it’s hard for me to say what’s going to happen, but I feel like in the next few weeks everything will unfold the way it’s supposed to.”"
Alex Anzalone talks about the familiarity he has in Detroit
Lions head coach Dan Campbell and Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn has been with Anzalone his entire NFL career, going back to the New Orleans Saints. He talked with Tucker about the value of that familiarity in Detroit, but he hinted at the idea of taking on something new.
"Familiarity with Detroit and my situation there—being a leader on the teams—is something that… you don’t have to start all over again and earn the respect of your teammates. That’s a big part of it,” “But sometimes you’re up for new challenges. It just depends on the situation, really. It’s kinda like we’ll cross that bridge when we get there, but I do love Detroit and everything they’re about and what Dan and (Lions GM) Brad (Holmes) are really about.”"
Anzalone would do well to see what else is out there on the market, since this may be his one and only crack at a nice multi-year deal. How far the Lions are willing to go to keep him is an inherent question, interlaced with what the market may bear for him. It’s worth noting, for whatever it’s worth, that Pro Football Focus had Anzalone improving to basically average after grading him very poorly in 2021.
The Lions have a couple young linebackers lined up for more opportunity, and in a big picture sense they could (should) be looking at a veteran upgrade over Anzalone. Time will tell if he’s back, and it’s no surprise contract talks have started.