On Monday, the Detroit Lions re-signed veteran linebacker Alex Anzalone to a one-year deal worth reportedly up to $4 million. Anzalone brings experience, knowledge, and leadership to Detroit’s defense, and potential starter-level play.
He could also be used to help the Lions wrangle some other desirable free agents. Anzalone happens to be close friends with safety Marcus Williams, a top-tier free agent whom many have linked to Detroit as a potential landing spot. Williams is one of the better, younger (25 years old) safeties in the league, but New Orleans’ cap situation makes him a difficult re-signing for the Saints.
“He’s one of my close buddies,” Anzalone said on Monday. “I was drafted with him in New Orleans in 2017 that was. He’s a hard worker, super talented, super athletic. He’s young but he’s wise and experienced. He started since Day 1 in New Orleans. He’s a freak athlete and a great guy, does all the right things, and one of the guys that you definitely want in the locker room.”
Detroit has a huge need at safety for 2022. Their two starters from last season—Tracy Walker and Dean Marlowe—are set to become unrestricted free agents on Wednesday, and even if the Lions decide to bring either or both back, they could use a significant upgrade at the position, especially one as young and promising as Williams.
Williams has logged at least two interceptions in all five of his NFL seasons, including nine in his past three years. In 2021, he tallied a career-high 74 tackles to go along with eight passes defended.
If Williams comes to Detroit, he wouldn’t only be reuniting with Anzalone, but he’d be coached again by Aaron Glenn, who was the Saints' secondary coach during Williams’ first four years in the NFL, but now is the defensive coordinator for the Lions.
So would Anzalone help recruit Williams if Detroit is interested in bringing him along?
“If Dan (Campbell) and Brad (Holmes) give me the go-ahead, I definitely will.”