While the Detroit Lions ended up passing on promoting defensive end Armonty Bryant earlier in the week, it appears they will be adding some defensive line help after all. According to several sources—but first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport—the Lions will be signing defensive lineman Datone Jones this week:
Jones is a former first-round pick, drafted 26th overall by the Green Bay Packers in 2013. Jones played at a variety of positions in his four seasons with Green Bay. He played defensive end in their 3-4 system, but played along the interior as well. By the end of the 2015 season, Jones had made a full transition to outside linebacker. Here are his full stats throughout his four-year career (per NFL.com):
2013: 16 games (0 starts), 10 tackles, 3.5 sacks
2014: 13 games (3 starts), 21 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT
2015 15 games (0 starts), 20 tackles, 3.0 sacks
2016: 15 games (4 starts), 22 tackles, 1.0 sacks
Green Bay declined Jones’ fifth-year option, making him a free agent in 2017. He promptly signed with the Vikings, but was put on injured reserve during the final cuts. He was released six days later with an injury settlement. His injury was reportedly a shoulder issue, but assuming he clears a physical, it appears he’s ready to play again.
With the Lions, it’s hard to know where Jones will fit in given his versatility. At 6-foot-5, 288 pound, he’s certainly built like a tweener that could both play the inside and outside. Detroit could use depth at both positions, especially if Haloti Ngata is out for an extended period of time after injuring his elbow in Sunday’s game against the Panthers.
The Lions have yet to confirm this move and they have not announced any corresponding move to make room for Jones on the roster.