If you’ve followed the Detroit Lions closely in the past two years, you know that general manager Brad Holmes can get pretty excited when he lands the player he wants. We saw him jump and dance around when Detroit drafted Penei Sewell with Holmes’ first ever draft pick. The next year, we saw him get so excited trading up for Jameson Williams that he knocked things off his desk.
Well, it turns out that energy level is not only reserved for draft night.
This week during the owners meeting, Holmes told a small group of reporters about the night that the Lions landed defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson in free agency—just over a week ago.
Holmes hadn’t planned to make a strong run at Gardner-Johnson. Their evaluation of him had him out of their price range.
“I kind of just saw the grades and ball production and was like, ‘Okay, this guy is probably getting top-dollar safety money and we’re just not going to be in that market,’” Holmes said, per Justin Rogers of the Detroit News.
But as the opening week of free agency was coming to a close and Gardner-Johnson was still without a team, Holmes put out some feelers. By Sunday, the Lions and Gardner-Johnson’s agent had reached at deal. By Sunday night around 10 p.m. ET, it was a done deal, and everyone in the Holmes household knew it.
“The kids were sleeping upstairs, wife was sleeping, I basically woke the whole household up when we got that done,” Holmes recalled.
The Lions general manager gave a few more details in a separate interview with DetroitLions.com’s Dannie Rogers:
“We were just bursting out with excitement,” Holmes said. “I woke up the whole house, it was about 10, 10:30 at night, but my wife did understand. I don’t know if my son and my daughter understood, but they were happy that they were able to wake up and celebrate again.”
Obviously, there’s a good reason to be excited. Gardner-Johnson is a versatile player and one of the top free agent defensive backs available this year, and the Lions were able to snag him on an affordable one-year deal worth $6.5 million.
“(He) fits our defense like a glove,” Holmes told Rogers. “I talk about a smart DB that’s gritty, he’s that, but it’s a piece that’s added to our defense that can elevate our whole unit.”