Lions Free Agency Preview: Cowboys Pro Bowler Thumps at Linebacker

Leighton Vander Esch

Getty Leigton Vander Esch on the field with the Cowboys in 2022.

While some folks will proclaim the Detroit Lions have bigger holes on their defense in the secondary, the fact of the matter is, there’s another position that looks like a more major weakness for the squad on the same side of the ball.

Linebacker has been a soft spot for the last few years in Detroit, and the Lions tried to rectify that with the selection of Derrick Barnes in 2021. Barnes played fine as a rookie as he learned the ropes, but the fact is, the youngster needs plenty of help to develop as planned in both the draft and free agency.

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With a few names such as Alex Anzalone expected to be out the door in free agency, could the Lions be players in the linebacker market? It’s more than possible given the fact that some good fits for what they like to do on defense do seem to exist.

Here’s a look at some free agent linebackers for the Lions to consider, any of whom would make sense as the team tries desperately to re-shape their defense for the 2022 season. Check back in for more lists of what players may fit Detroit’s offseason plan this year.


Jayon Brown, Linebacker, Tennessee Titans

The Titans linebacker has been a tackling monster the last five years since coming into the NFL, and he has put up some solid stats in his career with 385 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries. Here’s a look at some of the work he has done thus far:


Jayon Brown 2020 Titans Highlights 🔥Thanks for all the support don’t forget to subscribe for the best Washington Football Content 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 Dontae To My Channel here ⤵️ ♟ cash.app/$scoopworldsway ♟ paypal.com/paypalme/swayrun21?locale.x=en_US Follow My Socials here ⤵️ ♟ Twitter : mobile.twitter.com/swayyrun21 ♟ Instagram: instagram.com/swayrun21/?hl=en2021-02-20T20:34:07Z

Brown has some experience in the middle, and that should be appealing to the Lions, who need capable bodies all around at linebacker. The team needs to consider Brown strongly given what he can bring to the mix in terms of hustle plays and also given he is a young option they could build around.


Leighton Vander Esch, Linebacker, Dallas Cowboys

If there’s a player the Lions should consider the strongest in this free agent class at linebacker, it’s Vander Esch. The young middle linebacker has had an up and down career with Dallas, but has still put up solid numbers while playing a solid role on defense. Vander Esch has collected 349 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 interceptions and 12 passes defended. He’s also cracked a Pro Bowl in 2018.


Leighton Vander Esch 2020-21 HighlightsLeighton Vander Esch 2020-21 season highlights. I do not own any of the audio, images or footage shown in this video. This is for entertainment purposes only. #NFL #DallasCowboys #LeightonVanderEsch #NFLHighlights2021-01-19T21:03:55Z

The Lions could establish some defensive power with Vander Esch on the back end and he could bring the thump back to the middle of the defense. The Lions could also grow with Vander Esch given his relative youth at 26. It seems like a savvy move to think about adding him.


Haason Reddick, Linebacker, Carolina Panthers

The Lions have liked their linebackers to be active in the past, and there is no question that Reddick is one of the more active players on the market in terms of his ability to rush the passer from the edge and outside. Reddick has seen a bit of the shine come off him since he was a free agent. With 323 tackles and 31 sacks, Reddick is a player who could figure in strongly as part of the solution for Detroit to rush the passer. Here’s a look at the kind of havoc Reddick can create:


Haason Reddick 5 Sacks 3 Force Fumbles Highlights#nfl (All rights go to ESPN,FOX,CBS,NBC, The NFL, NBA & its broadcasters. I don’t own music and footage used in this video . No copyright infringement intended. Only for Entertainment purpose)2020-12-13T21:45:45Z

Detroit needs a presence at linebacker and Reddick could be that presence if he is engaged. There may be some questions about his fit in the defense, but it could be a good addition for the Lions to make.


Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Linebacker, Detroit Lions

After being a fourth-round pick of the Lions in the 2017 NFL draft, Reeves-Maybin has not gone on to play a huge role with the team in the last few seasons. He hasn’t started immediately nor locked down any type of significant role on the team’s defense. In 2021, that seemed to change.

When Reeves-Maybin played last season, he enjoyed a good year. The linebacker put up 82 total tackles which was a career high and played a key role on special teams. Here’s a look at some of his highlights from last year:


Jalen Reeves-Maybin 2021-2022 HighlightsI don't own the pictures/video/music in the video Song 1: Baby Keem – Trademark USA Song 2: Moneybagg Yo – Time Today 2021-2022 Jalen Reeves-Maybin Detroit Lions Highlights2022-01-29T17:02:54Z

At Tennessee, Reeves-Maybin was a productive player given he put up 240 tackles, 8.0 sacks and an interception in his career. That kind of versatile production is just what the Lions are starting to see now that they’ve given Reeves-Maybin a bigger chance to play, which could lead to a happy return and a new deal.


Kyzir White, Linebacker, Los Angeles Chargers

The Lions made a habit of finding some underrated steals last offseason, and this year, White could be a guy who plays a similar role for the Lions if he is the choice. Originally, White converted to linebacker after joining the Chargers, and has been a fixture with the team ever since. He has put up 278 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 4 interceptions to go with 10 passes defended. Here is a look at a nice hit he made:


Kyzir White big hit on Wayne Gallman II San Francisco 49ers vs charges (2021 NFL)All rights go to NFL, Fox, NBCSN, ESPN, ABC (No copyright infringement is intended this entertainment purposes only) NASCAR, NFL, COLLEGE FOOTBALL2021-08-23T00:38:06Z

The Lions have had trouble with coverage at linebacker, but White could help solve those issues himself, as he looks like he has morphed into a good playmaker and a solid find at the position. The Lions could be smart to take a gamble on paying White to see if he can turn into something in Detroit.

READ NEXT: Free Agency Preview: Why Former Lions DB Could Return

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