Alim McNeill knows if he takes care of business on the field, contract will come

Heading into the final year of his rookie contact, Lions' defensive tackle Alim McNeill knows what he has to do.
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In parallel with the progress the Detroit Lions have made, defensive tackle Alim McNeill has improved each year of his career. Last year's breakthrough, with five sacks, 34 pressures and the seventh-highest Pro Football Focus grade among defensive tackles (regular and postseason), was preceded by an offseason where McNeill reshaped his body and worked on his game.

McNeill also missed four games toward the end of last season with a knee injury, so without that absence he could have done even more than he did. Heading into final year of his rookie contract now, another step up in production this season will line him up for a nice payday in what has become a booming market for defensive tackles.

In a broad sense, McNeill admitted he noticed that two of his 2021 draft classmates (Amon-Ra St. Brown and Penei Sewell) were richly rewarded by the Lions this offseason (h/t to 97.1 The Ticket).

"I mean, I'm always gonna be self-motivated and everything, but yeah, 100 percent," McNeill said Thursday after the Lions' final minicamp practice.

Alim McNeill knows if he takes care of business on the field, everything will fall into place

Lions general manager Brad Holmes has set a precedent of "taking care of our own", and McNeill definitely fits that template as a player that has been developed internally into a budding star.

The time might be right now for the Lions to get a deal done with McNeill, before he potentially raises his value. If talks have started, McNeill said he told his agent not to tell him.

Head coach Dan Campbell plainly said this past week he didn't want players who are strictly motivated by a contract year, but it's safe to say McNeill is not that type with his response to being asked if a potential payday is motivation for him.

"It was motivation way before that. It’s always been motivation, since I started playing football, so that’ll never change."

McNeill also realizes, however obviously, that if he takes care of business on the field the off-field business will take care of itself.

"I’m just working, head down. Whatever happens, happens," he said. "I still have to play good to set myself up to even get any of that, so I’m not worried about that right now.", McNeill said.
"I’ve always had a mentality that I want to be the best player on the field, but this year I’m about to take it up another notch."

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