Jalen Reeves-Maybin has become the first 2022 Detroit Lions free agent to agree to sign with another team. According to a report from Jordan Schultz, the linebacker is inking a two-year, $7.5 million deal with $5 million guaranteed.
Reeves-Maybin, the Lions’ fourth-round pick in 2017, has been a key special teamer in Detroit for several years now. However, last year Reeves-Maybin got his best shot at competing at the linebacker position. He started 11 games, logged 82 tackles, 4 passes defended, and two forced fumbles.
The Lions coaching staff spoke highly of Reeves-Maybin often, touting his work ethic and improving skills at the linebacker position.
“Man, that guy is a football player,” defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said in December. “The thing is he loves football and you clearly see that when he’s on the field. Anytime you have a player of that magnitude, you can’t help but just put him on the field. You can’t help but just play him. And, I know he was relegated to special teams years before, but he’s shown he can be a starting inside linebacker.”
That makes it mildly surprising that Reeves-Maybin isn’t coming back to Detroit. The Lions did re-sign veteran Alex Anzalone, but the depth remains unaddressed. The rest of the room is rounded out by 2021 fourth-round pick Derrick Barnes, Josh Woods, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Anthony Pittman, Curtis Bolton, and Tavante Beckett.
Barnes is likely due for a bigger role in 2022, but Detroit would be wise to look to upgrade the other starting position, as Anzalone not only struggled in 2021 but on a one-year deal. He is clearly not the long-term answer at the position, either.