Walker was set to become a free agent, but had expressed a desire to come back to Detroit after connecting with the team’s new coaching staff in 2021.
“My main objective right now is to continue to grow with this coaching staff, continue to grow with this group of guys I’ve got surrounding me, and just continue to try to build a foundation,” Walker said at the end of the season. “One thing I’ve been saying all year is we’re trying to establish a foundation, and that’s something I want to be a part of. I just want to do the best and be the best player I can possibly be.”
Walker, a former third-round pick, has had an up-and-down start to his career. He has shown flashes of being a premier player and rising talent, but also struggles with inconsistency at times. Last season was the perfect example, as Walker started the year graded out as a top-five safety in the league, but ended up finishing with an average 65.1 PFF grade.
That said, Walker has received effusive praise from the Lions over the past year.
“He’s bought into everything that we’re trying to get done in this defense as far as a safety’s perspective and he’s grown,” defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said in January. “He’s grown in that and he’s also become a leader as far as linebackers, as far as getting everybody together and watching some tape. That’s what we expect of our safeties.”
Safety is a critical piece to Glenn’s defense, and by keeping Walker on the roster, Detroit locks up one starting position. However, questions remain about the rest of the depth chart there. It appears veteran Dean Marlowe will not be returning, and the Lions only have Will Harris, C.J. Moore, Jalen Elliott, Brady Breeze, and JuJu Hughes under contract.
It seems likely the Lions will add more competition to the safety position, whether it be in this year’s deep draft class or via a decent free agency pool.