On Monday morning, the Detroit Lions re-signed defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs. According to Tom Pelissero, it is a two-year deal worth “up to” $6 million. Buggs was set to become a free agent this offseason, but the Lions were able to get a deal done before the negotiating period of free agency opened up at noon ET on Monday.
Buggs was one of the most important late-offseason additions from the Lions last year. Added just at the start of training camp, Buggs would end up playing 755 defensive snaps for Detroit—good for seventh most on the team. The addition of Buggs—who primarily played nose tackle—freed up the opportunity for the Lions to move 2021 third-round pick Alim McNeill to the three-tech position. Meanwhile, Buggs helped clog up the middle of the field, helping the Lions run defense improve as the season progressed.
“He’s extremely important,” coach Dan Campbell said of Buggs back in January. “And I kind of feel like every week, you talk about the run game, it always starts inside. Everything for us starts inside and works its way out because if those guys don’t do their job, then all the strain starts to go out on the guys who that’s not necessarily what they’re able to do a full game of, whereas man, Buggs and Mac, I feel like those two guys are linked. They’re always going to be linked, and it all starts with them.”
But Buggs’ contributions went well beyond the field. He also emerged as an important leader in the locker room. He was one of a few players who were credited with setting up the players-owner meeting that seemed to help turn around the team’s defensive performance. By December, Buggs was regularly breaking down the team and providing motivational speeches on game day, despite only being with the team for a few months.
After releasing veteran defensive tackle Michael Brockers earlier in the offseason, the Lions now have four defensive tackles signed to the roster: McNeil, Buggs, Levi Onwuzurike, and Demetrius Taylor. With Onwuzurike still rehabbing from a serious back injury, expect the Lions to continue to add at the defensive tackle, perhaps with significant resources.
UPDATE: Dave Birkett has some early details on the contract terms:
On Isaiah Buggs' extension with the Lions, he gets $2.1M fuly guaranteed at signing. $4.5M base, with another $1.5M availabile in incentives.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) March 13, 2023
Buggs was a key contributor on that DL, found a home in Detroit and wanted to return.