The numbers are out for the contract linebacker Justin Durant got from the Dallas Cowboys. His two-year deal is worth $2.4 million, according to Dave Birkett, and it has a $400,000 signing bonus. This is very interesting given the contracts the Detroit Lions gave to some other linebackers.
Durant's deal is actually worth less than what linebacker Ashlee Palmer is set to get from the Lions. Palmer's deal with the Lions, which was signed at the end of last season, is worth $3.25 million over two years, and it included a $1 million signing bonus.
Durant's deal is also significantly smaller than what the Lions gave linebacker DeAndre Levy. Levy is set to make $9.75 million over three years, and he got a $3 million signing bonus. The thinking was that the Lions chose Levy over Durant when it came time to re-sign their own free agents, but based on the contracts, they really ended up choosing Palmer over him as well.
The Lions decided to not bring back Durant because they want to give guys like Palmer, Tahir Whitehead and Travis Lewis a chance to start at outside linebacker. However, given the type of contract Durant ended up getting from the Cowboys, it seems like it would have been worth it to re-sign him. I know the Lions want to open up a competition and give other guys a chance to play, but Durant is a proven player who had pretty solid numbers last season.
Looking back, it seems like the Lions made a mistake by giving Palmer a deal worth $3.25 million. The Lions are high on his potential at linebacker, but considering he has primarily been a special teams player, chances are they could have re-signed him for less money had he hit free agency. The market just isn't there at linebacker, which is why the Cowboys got such a bargain with Durant.
I suppose that's the risk you run with free agency, and had Palmer been allowed to hit the open market, he could have ended up signing elsewhere. However, I'd take Durant and his $2.4 million deal over Palmer and his $3.25 million deal. And I'd especially take Durant's deal over what the Lions gave Levy, who was also re-signed before free agency opened.