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2022 Detroit Lions free agent profile: Did Alex Anzalone earn a second contract in Detroit?

Do the Lions keep Anzalone?

NFL: Detroit Lions at Cleveland Browns Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 Detroit Lions free agent profile train keeps rolling on. We’ve already made stops to talk about Charles Harris, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Tim Boyle, now we’re stopping to talk about the guy with the best hair in the locker room, linebacker Alex Anzalone.

Alex Anzalone

Expectations heading into 2021

The expectations for Anzalone were never too high when the Lions signed him to a one-year deal in free agency last March. During Anzalone’s time in New Orleans, the former third-round pick showed a lot of inconsistency. After a decent first two years, Anzalone’s career started to trend downward sue to injuries. The expectations were that Anzalone would be a short-term plug in that had some connection to Dan Campbell and Aaron Glenn, but ultimately wouldn’t last too long in Detroit.

Actual role in 2021

14 games (14 starts): 78 tackles (1 for loss), 7 passes defended and 1 interception, 1 sack and 2 quarterback hits.

PFF Grade: 35.4

Much like his entire career, there were times in 2021 where Anzalone seemed like he was the best player on the field. He had great games against the Bears, Rams and Cardinals where he posted solid PFF grades in the 70s and showed sideline-to-sideline skills. He received constant praise from head coach Dan Campbell for always being near the ball, even when it appeared, from the outside, that Anzalone struggled at times. Anzalone was even referred to as one of the most consistent players by Campbell.

And there were certainly some struggles. Of the 14 games that Anzalone played for the Lions, he posted PFF grades of 50 or lower in eight of them.

Anzalone’s biggest moment in Detroit was either Week 12 performance against the Bears where he notched nine tackles and two pass defense en route to a 78.8 PFF grade or his interception against the Vikings in Week 5 against the Vikings.

Outlook for 2022

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent

It doesn't look all that great for Anzalone chances of staying in Detroit. He posted a cryptic photo on his Instagram page, noting how “it was a privilege to play for the Lions organizations this year.”

The fact is the Lions need to get faster at the linebacker spot, and it’ll likely be a big part of their offseason focus this year. Heck, during the Senior Bowl, Campbell said specifically that they’d like to add a linebacker.

Anzalone just, plain and simple, didn’t do enough in Detroit to warrant bringing him back. Still, with that connection to the Lions coaching staff, you never really know. The Lions could always use a veteran presence on a young defense. Anzalone could possibly be that assuming he’d be willing to take on a smaller workload. Unless that’s the case, it’s hard to see a world where Anzalone plays for the Lions in 2022.


Should the Lions re-sign Alex Anzalone?

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