It was a concept a lot of Detroit Lions fans could not conceive of heading into free agency, but Jamaal Williams indeed was not brought back. The pivot was not one that was easy to see coming though, as former Bear David Montgomery was quickly signed to replace Williams when contract talks went nowhere.
Having played against Montgomery twice in each of the last two seasons, the Lions had a good idea what they were getting in their new back. To this point it seems he has delivered, quietly toiling while the hype surrounds rookie backfield mate Jahmyr Gibbs.
Before Wednesday's practice against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Lions head coach Dan Campbell took some time to praise Montgomery.
"He fits us." And I think, he's just, he's very versatile. He's smart. "And he's just wired the right way, man. He's got a workman mentality and he's a lunch pail guy. But man, he's got some shiftiness to him. He's low to the ground. He's got power. And he just can go all day long. And I think we haven't even seen the best of him yet, because we don't really go live and he's not in games yet. That's when I think he's really going to show up. I'm glad we got him. He's gonna be really important for us.""- Dan Campbell
David Montgomery looks like ideal all-around replacement for Jamaal Williams
Williams was easy to like in Detroit, an equal mix of quotable and a tireless worker as an example for his teammates. But his comments about the contract offer the Lions gave him, calling it disrespectful when reports have suggested it was the same deal Montgomery took (and he got less than from the Saints), may have been a flash of his true colors. Add in the talent upgrade, and maybe Williams won't be that big a loss.
Some of Montgomery's new teammates have already said things similar to what Campbell said about him on Wednesday. He isn't likely to be as loquacious as Williams was, but in his own way Montgomery will be an important tone setter for the Lions on and off the field.