At the NFL owners meetings, Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes went into a little more detail on why the team couldn’t come to an agreement with running back Jamaal Williams and, instead, had to turn their attention to free agent David Montgomery instead.
“We tried,” Holmes said. “But when the market crystallized and it got to a point where David was in play kind of within the range of resources that we had set aside (for Williams), that’s when we went ahead and went for it with David, which we’re extremely excited about.”
By Tuesday night—less than 36 hours after the free agency negotiating period opened—the Lions had their new running back, handing Montgomery a three-year, $18 million deal.
It turns out it’s a good thing Holmes didn’t wait long before shifting strategies, because two other NFC North teams were trying to bring Montgomery to their team.
The Chicago Bears had interest in re-signing Montgomery back after four successful seasons from their 2019 third-round pick. Ultimately, they ended up signing former Panthers running back D’Onta Foreman (one year, $3 million) and former Seahawk Travis Homer (two years, $4.5 million).
But Bears general manager Ryan Poles revealed last week that Chicago came very close to re-signing Montgomery.
“I would just kind of sum it up by saying players do have a choice,” Poles said, according to ChicagoBears.com. “I thought we communicated well. I thought we negotiated well. At the same time, you don’t always know what’s going on in the background, but I thought we did a good job, we were transparent, we were organized and it just, it didn’t happen. I felt like it was really, really close, though.”
But Chicago wasn’t the only team in on Montgomery. According to a report from Bears beat writer Brad Briggs of the Chicago Tribune, the Minnesota Vikings also made a play for him. Per Biggs, one big reason the Lions were able to pry him away from Chicago and Minnesota was the guaranteed money in the contract.
“Montgomery scored an $18 million, three-year contract from the Lions, and what’s notable is the deal included $8.75 million fully guaranteed and another $2.25 million is fully guaranteed if he is on the roster on the third day of the 2024 league year,” Biggs wrote. “The Bears’ offer to Montgomery, according to a source, did not include any guaranteed money beyond Year 1 of the deal.”
Despite missing out on Montgomery, Poles noted that he believes the running back will be running with some extra motivation in 2023.
“He definitely is going to run with a chip on his shoulder, so we’ll be ready for that. But I communicated with him, too. Happy for him. He’s a guy I’ve respected since he was at Iowa State, and I love the way he runs. So, it’s all good.”