The name has been thrown around a little bit, mostly in jest, but former Detroit Lions second-round pick Kyle Van Noy appears to be headed towards free agency, and the Lions just so happen to need an upgrade at the linebacker position.
Though the divorce between Van Noy and the Lions back in 2016 got ugly at times after Detroit traded him away for just a seventh-round pick, Van Noy actually believed the Lions were building something after hiring his former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia as their new head coach.
“Matty P is running a tight ship and it’s good competition,” Van Noy said during joint practices last season. “They have really good players. Stafford has always been good. I think he’s one of the most underrated, toughest players in the league. I always have respect for him and what he does, and they have really good up-and-coming players. They’ve just got to put the pieces together, and I feel like they’ll be pretty good.”
And while the Lions didn’t turn out to be pretty good in 2019, Van Noy is open to returning to Detroit as he enters free agency. In an interview with NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, Van Noy said he believed there could be mutual interest there.
Crap, my bad. Fell Behind. He said "sure" when I asked if he'd be open to going back to Detroit, considering it's a new staff. Wasn't a long answer. He spoke about Patricia being one of three former NE coaches who will likely show interest.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 11, 2020
“I have a good relationship with every single one of those coaches,” Van Noy said of the three former Patriots coaches that may pursue him in free agency (including Patricia). “They know what I bring to the table. I believe they’ll be at the table. It’s just a matter of when it comes time to hand out money, I guess we’ll see.”
Van Noy is an interesting case not only because he’d be returning to the team that traded him just a couple years after drafting him or because Patricia likely played an important part in turning his career around in New England, but because Patricia himself noted the importance of having a veteran linebacker to help teach Detroit’s current young set of players.
“The knowledge that you get instantly, within a year or two of sitting next to those guys, it’s so valuable, and that’s something that (Jarrad Davis) hasn’t really had,” Patricia said last March.
And while Van Noy has only played in Patricia’s scheme for three and a half years, that would instantly make him the most well-versed player among Detroit’s linebacking corps. On top of that, Van Noy happens to be coming off his highest-graded season per PFF.
Never say never.