Lions Add Former Super Bowl Champion LB: Report

Ben Niemann

Getty The Detroit News' Justin Rogers reported on June 10 that the Detroit Lions signed veteran linebacker Ben Niemann.

The offseason workouts for the Detroit Lions are completed, and the team decided it still needs additional linebacker depth. To satisfy that need, the Lions signed veteran linebacker Ben Niemann on June 10, according to The Detroit News’ Justin Rogers.

“The Detroit Lions are bolstering their linebacking and special teams depth ahead of next month’s training camp, signing veteran Ben Niemann,” wrote Rogers.

In a corresponding move, the Lions waived undrafted free agent linebacker Steele Chambers.

Niemann has six years of NFL experience. He played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2018-21, winning the Super Bowl with the team in 2019.

Over those four seasons, he started 12 contests. Niemann played a career-high 557 defensive snaps for the Chiefs during the 2021 season.

The past two years, Niemann played for the Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos. In 2022 with the Cardinals, he started a career-high nine games.

Lions Sign LB Ben Niemann

The Lions added undrafted free agents Chambers and DaRon Gilbert for additional linebacker depth this offseason. With their latest move, the Lions dropped an undrafted rookie for a former undrafted free agent with a lot of experience.

Niemann began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent in 2018. As a rookie, he dressed in 14 games for the Chiefs and even made a start.

Niemann made at least 1 NFL start every season until last year. His best statistical campaign came in 2022 with the Cardinals when he appeared in 17 games, starting nine of them. In Arizona, he recorded 70 combined tackles, including 2 tackles for loss with 1 pass defense and 1 fumble recovery.

During 2022, he played 481 defensive snaps, which was actually fewer than his 557 with the Chiefs the prior year. Niemann has played a lot on special teams during his career as well.

From 2019-22, Niemann averaged about 476 defensive snaps and 246 snaps on special teams per season.

But last year with the Broncos, Niemann didn’t play a single snap on defense in seven games. On special teams, he played 134 snaps.

Appearing only on special teams, Niemann recorded just 2 combined tackles in Denver.

Lions Linebacker Depth Heading Into NFL Training Camp

Other than adding Chambers and Gilbert, the Lions didn’t make any additions at linebacker this offseason. That could allow for Niemann to carve out a role as a depth player for Detroit.

But there’s a reason the Lions didn’t make linebacker a bigger priority this offseason. Detroit will return its top five linebackers from the 2023 roster.

Alex Anzalone and Derrick Barnes will be back as likely starters while 2023 first-round pick Jack Campbell is expected to play a much bigger role. Campbell entered the starting lineup on a consistent basis last season during Week 6 and began playing more snaps per game in December.

The Lions also still have Malcolm Rodriguez and Jalen Reeves-Maybin for depth. Rodriguez started 15 games as a rookie just two years ago while Reeves-Maybin made second-team All-Pro as a special teams ace last season.

That likely won’t leave another linebacker, including Niemann, much of an opportunity to receive playing time during 2024.

But Niemann will supply important depth through training camp and the preseason, which is a notorious time for injuries throughout the NFL. Niemann could also be another mentor for Gilbert or even Campbell.

There could also be an opportunity for Niemann to replace veteran linebacker Anthony Pittman, who played more than 350 special teams snaps for the Lions from 2021-23. Pittman signed with the Washington Commanders this offseason.

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