The Detroit Lions continue to do work on their defensive line, and now they potentially have their replacement for Damon Harrison Sr. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Lions have agreed to sign Patriots defensive tackle Danny Shelton to a two-year deal worth $8 million.
Although Shelton is a former Patriot, he was not there during Lions head coach Matt Patricia’s tenure as defensive coordinator. Shelton was originally drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. In 2018, the Patriots traded for Shelton, and he’s been part of their defensive line rotation since. The team declined the fifth-year option on Shelton’s rookie deal, but ended up giving him a one-year contract for the 2019 season before letting him hit free agency this year.
Though his first year in New England was modest, with just one start and 21 tackles in 13 game appearances, he really came into his own in 2019. Shelton started 14 of 16 games, racked up 61 tackles, 3.0 sacks and a respectable PFF grade of 71.6 (35th of 121 qualifying interior defenders).
At 26 years old, Shelton is a nice, younger option for the Lions at nose tackle, and he’s an obvious scheme fit with his success in New England. At just $4 million per year average, he’s also considerably cheaper than if the Lions had gone for a top-tier free agent nose tackle like D.J. Reader, who signed with the Bengals for an average of $13.25 million per year.