Lions Guard Jonah Jackson Makes Final Free Agency Decision: Report

Jonah Jackson

Getty NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported that former Detroit Lions guard Jonah Jackson will sign a 3-year, $51 million contract to join the Los Angeles Rams.

Guard Jonah Jackson landed a big contract during the NFL’s legal tampering period on March 11. However, he will not be returning to the Detroit Lions.

NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported on March 11 that Jackson will sign a 3-year, $51 million contract with the Los Angeles Rams. The deal will include $34 million guaranteed.

“A big payday for Jackson, who will join the recently re-sign Kevin Dotson as L.A. pours big money into the middle of their offensive line,” wrote Garafolo on X (formerly Twitter).

Jackson started for Detroit since his rookie 2020 season. He was more than a solid offensive linemen for the Lions the past four seasons. In 2021, he started 16 of 17 contests and made the Pro Bowl.

During 2023, Jackson started 12 regular season games at left guard. He also started the team’s first two playoff games.

Jackson will not be able to sign his new contract until NFL free agency officially begins at 4 pm ET on March 13. But Jackson is leaving Detroit hours after Garafolo reported  the Lions agreed in principle to a new contract with guard Graham Glasgow.

Lions Re-Sign Graham Glasgow, Jonah Jackson Signs With Rams

The Lions entered the NFL’s legal tampering period with more salary cap space than every other team but five. However, it still appeared unlikely that the Lions were going to bring back both of their starting offensive guards from the 2023 season.

Detroit elected to re-sign Glasgow, coming to terms with the veteran guard before the legal tampering period even began.

Glasgow was the much cheaper option. He agreed to return to the Lions on a 3-year, $20 million with $9.5 million guaranteed.

Free agency technically hasn’t begun, but it’s already been a hot offseason for offensive guards. Pro Football Focus’ top two free agent offensive guards, Kevin Dotson and Robert Hunt, each received at least $16 million on an average annual basis on their new deals.

Hunt earned a 5-year, $100 million contract from the Carolina Panthers. That deal will make him one of the top three highest-paid guards on an average annual basis in the NFL.

Ironically, Jackson and Dotson will play together on the Rams offensive line. The two guards each signed deals worth at least $48 million.

The Lions may have simply preferred Glasgow’s price tag over Jackson’s. However, durable could have been a factor in Detroit’s guard decision as well.

Including the playoffs, Jackson missed six games during 2023-24 because of ankle, knee and wrist injuries.

How do the Lions Replace Jackson?

While the Lions were able to retain one of their starting guards from the 2023 season, Jackson’s departure leaves a hole on Detroit’s offensive line.

The top-rated free agent options at guard are signed, but considering the Lions didn’t want to bring back Jackson, they likely prefer to be more frugal at the position anyway.

A week before free agency began, SB Nation’s Pride of Detroit’s Jeremy Reisman proposed 13 guard options for the Lions in free agency. Some of those potential targets have already signed with other teams. But second-tier guard options that Reisman suggested such as Ezra Cleveland, Damien Lewis, and Kevin Zeitler are still available.

The “bargain bin” options at guard also remain unsigned and could be additions the Lions make later in free agency.

Fellow veteran guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai is another unrestricted free agent for the Lions. Vaitai was a big free agent signing with Detroit in 2020, but after playing only six games over the past two seasons because of injuries, Vaitai is unlikely to return.

Other than Graham, Netane Muti, Matt Farniok and Colby Sorsdal are the offensive linemen under contract for 2024 in Detroit who can play guard.

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