According to a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Detroit Lions are re-signing linebacker/special teams ace Jalen Reeves-Maybin to a “1-year $2,378,490 fully guaranteed deal”. Rumors swirled late last week that the Lions were interested in bringing Reeves-Maybin back and now a deal is done on just ahead of free agency.
Reeves-Maybin was drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 draft by the Lions and was expected to compete in their 4-3 scheme, as well as on special teams. As he acclimated to the NFL during his rookie season, he established himself as a core special teams player.
The Lions shifted schemes in his sophomore season, and with the scheme preferring size over athleticism at the linebacker level, Reeves-Maybin was a very difficult fit. Working in his favor was his success on special teams and it earned him a roster spot for the next three seasons.
With the Lions shifting schemes once again—this one favoring athletic linebackers—Reeves-Maybin has a chance to see the field on defense as well as being a key contributor on special teams.
Last season, Reeves-Maybin registered seven special teams tackles and a PFF special teams grade of 71.5, while in 2019, his 12 special teams tackles and 90.0 PFF grade led the team.
One interesting note with regards to Reeves-Maybin’s contract, while he is making $2,378,490 in cash this season, per Dave Birkett of the Free Press, the contract will count far less against the cap—likely only the league minimum—because the Lions are using a new CBA rule for fifth-year players who have spent their first four years with the team and are on an expiring contract. The Lions used this same strategy with Miles Killebrew last season and he only cost $1,047,500 against the cap—though Reeves-Maybin’s deal should be a slightly higher cap hit.