Lions to sign veteran linebacker Ben Niemann

After minicamp, the Lions are set to sign a veteran linebacker.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

With minicamp done and OTAs coming to a full end this week, the Detroit Lions have added a player. According to Justin Rogers of the Detroit News, linebacker Ben Niemann is being signed to the Lions' 90-man roster.

Update: 5:30 p.m. ET: The Lions have waived undrafted rookie linebacker Steele Chambers to make room for signing Niemann.

Niemann went undrafted out of Iowa in 2018. He has played 86 games with 21 starts over six NFL seasons, with the Kansas City Chiefs (2018-2021), Arizona Cardinals (2022) and Denver Broncos (2023). He played over 400 defensive snaps in each of his last three seasons with the Chiefs, and he made nine starts in 17 games for the Cardinals in 2022.

Niemann spent about half of last season on the Broncos' practice squad, playing strictly special teams (134 snaps) over seven games. His 79.1 special teams grade from Pro Football Focus was top-55 among all qualified special teamers.

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Niemann landed with the Broncos just before last season started. He spent the preseason with the Tennessee Titans, where new Lions' defensive line coach Terrell Williams was on staff. Lions' tight ends coach Steve Heiden was with the Cardinals in 2022 when Niemann was there.

It's also worth noting Niemann played for Dan Campbell's mentor Sean Payton last season in Denver. So maybe there was a recommendation made, and Campbell is giving Niemann a shot.

Neimann's odds to make the Detroit's 53-man roster feel slim. Five linebackers (Alex Anzalone, Jack Campbell, Derrick Barnes, Malcolm Rodriguez, Jalen Reeves-Maybin) are locks, barring something unforeseen.

However, the loss of Anthony Pittman in free agency opens up a potential spot on the roster for someone of similar special teams-heavy (if not exclusively) ilk. Niemann clearly fits that bill, now lined up to compete for that spot during Lions' training camp.

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