2. A 3-year deal for Alex Anzalone
The Lions clearly value Anzalone highly, for intangibles as much as anything, and he did have the best season of his career in 2022 (125 tackles, seven tackles for loss, six pass breakups).
But, based on his Pro Football Focus grades, Anzalone improved from awful in 2021 to passably average last year. The eye test says he’s regularly a step slow getting to plays, and in a broad sense he should be replaceable.
Initial reports, as they’ll do on a surfacy level without fine details, said it was a three-year deal worth up to $18.75 million for Anzalone to come back to the Lions. A deeper look showed it to be a two-year commitment, as a practical matter.
Last season was Anzalone’s best year, and the odds it stands as his career year seem pretty good. And the Lions, against what would usually be good business, paid him above his worth off a career year. It’s a line they drew with Jamaal Williams, but didn’t with Anzalone when the situations were fairly similar on the surface.
Anzalone made it pretty clear he wanted a multi-year deal in free agency, and he should have desired that due to the short shelf life of football players. But a three-year deal, and a post-June 1 cut in 2025 is more beneficial than a pre-June 1 cut, was a stretch the Lions probably didn’t need to make.
Was anyone else looking to give Anzalone a multi-year deal, let alone three years regardless of the financial mechanics? It’s doubtful.