The Detroit Lions need a ton of help for the future, especially on the defensive side of the ball so much that patching all the holes might be impossible this offseason.
With this in mind, the team is likely to need multiple different players to fill in at multiple spots. That could make free agents the team trusts valuable, especially like players like linebacker Alex Anzalone, who not only had a previous tie to the staff but played a big role in 2021.
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Anzalone is an unrestricted free agent after playing 828 snaps for the Lions last year, and he could have offered a hint that the team has already informed him they plan on moving on. In an Instagram post, Anzalone admits it was a privilege to play for the Lions, not words typically uttered by someone who knows they are sticking around.
“It was a privilege to play for the Lions organization this year,” Anzalone wrote. “I truly had one of the most fun seasons playing football in my life despite everything. Being chosen as captain by my peers has been an honor that I’ll never forget. As chapter 5 ends, 6 begins…”
While that post doesn’t necessarily signal the end of Anzalone with the Lions, it was also in grayscale, something Chris Burke of The Athletic pointed out could be a signal he is prepared to move on.
Regardless, linebacker is a need for the Lions this offseason, and it might only be a bigger one if Anzalone does not comes back.
Anzalone’s Play Earning Him 2022 Look With Lions
A free agent again in 2022 like he was last offseason, the Lions have seen some solid play out of Anzalone this year. Though he did not get a shot to finish strong thanks to injury, his statistics were already on a solid footing this year with the team pushing toward the end of the season. Before injury, Anzalone had put up 78 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception with the Lions in 2021 and was a veteran leader for the team’s defense under Aaron Glenn. More than that, he’s been a quality addition to the community and the locker room as this interview with DetroitLions.com showed from earlier this year:
Anzalone might have found his perfect fit in Detroit, and as a result, his play and his attitude may have earned him another year with the team if they want him back. In terms of depth, the Lions could do a lot worse than a 2022 reunion.
Anzalone’s Career Stats & Highlights
Coming into the NFL as a third-round pick out of Florida in 2017, it didn’t take Anzalone long to make his presence felt with the Saints and become one of the team’s fan favorites. With his flowing locks and tough style, Anzalone managed to put up decent stats with the Saints and has 123 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 interception and 3 passes defended to his credit while in the league. If there’s been one red flag about Anzalone’s career at this point in time, it’s been injuries. He suffered a shoulder injury in 2017 and then was placed on the IR in 2019 with a knee injury. Unforunately, that happened again late in Anzalone’s 2021 campaign.
A look at the highlights from his first few seasons in the NFL shows an athlete who can move:
Those highlights are similar to what Anzalone has provided the Lions in a short time this season. As a result, it would not be a shock to see the team prioritize a reunion this offseason. Based on his recent words, Anzalone himself would seem to love just that.