Entering the offseason the Detroit Lions had an opportunity to apply an exclusive rights free agent tender to running back Craig Reynolds, but it appears they have elected to forgo that decision and re-signed him to an undisclosed contract instead.
Reynolds joined the Lions during the 2021 offseason and was initially signed to the practice squad. Then, near the end of the year, the Lions ran into the injury bug at running back and elevated Reynolds to the active roster. He shined and earned a new contract that offseason.
Entering 2022, Reynolds looked slated for the Lions RB3 role, but an injury opened the door for Justin Jackson to step into the role. Reynolds was able to return to the active roster in Week 15, but after an acclimation phase, along with the success of Jackson, Reynolds finished the season in an emergency RB4 role.
This offseason, co-starter Jamaal Williams and Jackson are both unrestricted free agents, and only co-starter D’Andre Swift, practice squader Jermar Jefferson, and injured rookie Greg Bell are under contract. The Lions made sure they returned Reynolds for stability at the position.
Based on the current roster, Reynolds would be the Lions RB2, but with Swift in a contract year, the Lions seem poised to add to the position this offseason.
It’s possible the Lions re-sign Williams, as they have been in discussions on a new contract, but the veteran back is expected to have a very healthy market in free agency, and it is anticipated that he will explore his options.
Another option, regardless of what happens with Williams, is to turn to the draft for competition. This year’s class features several terrific prospects and could help bring up the level of talent in the running backs room.
Regardless of the additions to the room, Reynolds has done enough to justify a spot in the running back competition in 2023 and beyond.