After a deal was agreed to with Jahmyr Gibbs on Monday, it was certainly coming. And on Tuesday, the Detroit Lions indeed wrapped up their 2023 draft class by signing second-round defensive back Brian Branch.
The Lions added Branch with the No. 45 pick in April's draft. He listed as safety at Alabama, but he lined up all over the field as a nickel corner and a safety. Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn loves that kind of versatility, and Branch has it like free agent signing C.J. Gardner-Johnson does.
Last season for the Crimson Tide, Branch had 90 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, three sacks, seven pass breakups and two interceptions. Pro Football Focus credited him a 69.3 passer rating allowed, and a 15.8 percent incompletion rate when targeted. PFF also gave him just four missed tackles in 174 career tackle attempts at Alabama. He earned second-team All-American honors for his work.
Lions finally sign entire 2023 draft class by inking Brian Branch
A glimpse of it came with the deal the Lions signed second-round tight end Sam LaPorta to. There's been a push for second-round picks to get more guaranteed money in their rookie contracts, and that was the likely holdup with Branch as the Lions negotiated with his agency (Klutch Sports). With rookies set to report to Allen Park for training camp on Wednesday, Tuesday was the day to get the deal done. Slotted rookie contract values make negotiations easier, in theory.
So what will Branch's contract look like?
As the 45th overall pick, Branch's rookie deal should look something close to this projection from Spotrac:
Four years, $8.02 million ($2.833 million signing bonus); $1.458 milion cap hit for 2023
Entering Tuesday, just eight of picks 32-50 from April's draft,and just one from pick 41-50, were signed. A lot of those deals should get done in the coming days, and the Lions signing Branch so he can report to camp on time Wednesday might be a domino for a lot of others selected around him.
But the Lions have now taken care of all their offseason business before camp starts with the rookies reporting.