One of the trickier decisions facing the Detroit Lions when it comes to re-signing their own players is veteran linebacker Alex Anzalone.
On one hand, Anzalone is coming off the best year of his career and he established himself as a leader in a young defensive locker room. On the other hand, the Lions have two young linebackers on the team primed to take the next step, and they may be better served both giving them playtime and seeking an upgrade either in the draft or via free agency.
With free agency still two weeks away, the Lions may not have made their decision with Anzalone yet. However, when asked this week if he had a gut feeling where he’ll end up this year, the veteran linebacker said there have been preliminary talks with the Lions.
“There have been talks with them,” Anzalone told former NFL offensive lineman Ross Tucker on the Ross Tucker Football Podcast. “It’s just... everything is going to unfold in the next few weeks, so it’s hard for me to say what’s going to happen, but I feel like in the next few weeks everything will unfold the way it’s supposed to.”
Last year, Anzalone went through a similar process. After signing a one-year deal in Detroit in 2021, he was possibly heading for free agency. However, Detroit opted to keep him around on another one-year deal, which was signed just a few days before free agency opened.
Anzalone has consistently said that he loves playing for both coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn—coaches who have been around for Anzalone’s entire career, dating back to his Saints days. Anzalone admitted that familiarity is nice to have, but it’s also tempting to start something new.
“Familiarity with Detroit and my situation there—being a leader on the teams—is something that... you don’t have to start all over again and earn the respect of your teammates. That’s a big part of it,” Anzalone said. “But sometimes you’re up for new challenges. It just depends on the situation, really. It’s kinda like we’ll cross that bridge when we get there, but I do love Detroit and everything they’re about and what Dan and (Lions GM) Brad (Holmes) are really about.”
Throughout the entire process, Anzalone has made it clear that being able to take care of his family is a big priority in his life. Given that he’ll turn 29 this season and is coming off back-to-back, one-year deals, it’s quite possible he’ll be looking for a serious raise from $2.25 million contract and more long-term security.
We’ll have to wait and see if the Lions will be willing to spend more on him when (or before) free agency officially opens up on March 15.
You can watch the entire interview with Anzalone here: