Woods was set to become a restricted free agent next month after the Lions poached him from the Chicago Bears’ practice squad in late September. Prior to landing in Detroit, Woods had played for three years in Chicago, almost exclusively as a special teamer.
After the Lions added him, Woods provided some important depth when the Lions parted ways with veteran linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. early in the year. He immediately found a role on special teams, which he held for the remainder of the season, and towards the end of the year, he got some time on defense, too. In Week 14 against the Denver Broncos, Woods got his first career start, and tallied 13 tackles, two tackles for loss, a quarterback hit, and a solid 65.2 PFF grade. He also took over the green dot helmet—relaying defensive play calls from coordinator Aaron Glenn—when Alex Anzalone went down with an injury.
“I would say Woods went in there, he took over the green dot, and I thought for not having played as much as he’s played at the linebacker position, making the calls, I thought he played physical, he was downhill,” head coach Dan Campbell said after the game. “Was it perfect? No, but I thought he went in there and represented himself and us pretty well.”
At 6-foot-1, 236 pounds, Woods (a former safety at Maryland) represents the kind of smaller, speedier linebacker the Lions’ current coaching staff prefers compared to the bigger, stronger defenders of the previous regime. His special teams value—he played 174 snaps on that unit, sixth-most on the team—gives him a good chance of making the team’s 53-man roster next season.
Woods joins fullback Jason Cabinda as two potential restricted free agents who re-signed with the Lions before hitting the market. Cabinda inked a two-year deal last week.