Lions Re-Sign Underrated Defensive Free Agent Just Before NFL Draft

Benito Jones

Getty Benito Jones sacks Josh Allen of the Bills in 2022.

The Detroit Lions have done plenty of free agency shopping in the last few months, but the day before the start of the 2023 NFL draft, they added another intriguing internal piece.

Coming back to the Lions on a new contract was exclusive rights free agent defensive tackle Benito Jones. Last year, Jones signed with the Lions when the team plucked him off the Miami Dolphins as final roster cuts were playing out.

Now, Jones is sticking around for another year, which the Lions revealed in a tweet on Wednesday, April 26.

“Lions have re-signed DL Benito Jones to an Exclusive Rights Contract,” the team revealed in a tweet.

Jones did well in his Detroit debut, playing in all 17 games for the team, while putting up 1.5 sacks and 16 tackles. He’s the kind of gritty depth piece that helps a team in major ways behind the scenes, even if he isn’t getting all the glory on the field or putting up glamour statistics.

Jones will now have a chance to come back to the Lions to keep going with the team after being given a trial for 2022.

Benito Jones’ Career Stats & Highlights

In 2020, Jones came into the league as an undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss. He was signed by Miami, and quickly made the roster as a depth player to compete up front for the team.

In college, Jones was very productive, finishing with 132 tackles and 10.5 sacks. His 31 tackles-for loss were ninth-overall in program history, showcasing Jones’ ability to get behind the line of scrimmage. Here’s a sample:

Coming to Detroit last year, Jones had only 1 tackle to his credit in the NFL and didn’t played much with the Dolphins. He enjoyed a productive 2022 preseason, something Justin Rogers of the Detroit News pointed out at the time of his addition.

“A little more on Jones. He brings that girth the Lions were looking for at 315 pounds. He hasn’t played much his first two seasons after going undrafted, but had a productive preseason, logging 110 snaps, while recording seven tackles (two for a loss) and five QB pressures,” Rogers tweeted.

Jones would parlay that into a decent performance with the Lions in 2022. He played in 17 games with no starts, but posted 1.5 sacks, two passes defended, 16 total tackles and four quarterback hits.

In 2023, Jones should have an chance to compete for a bigger role up front given what he was able to do in his first year with the team.

Lions Focusing on Bolstering Defensive Line

In keeping Jones, the Lions have made yet another commitment to a depth piece that enjoyed a solid debut in Detroit during the 2022 season.

At a reported 329 pounds, Jones brought the girth the Lions needed last offseason, and gave the Lions a space eating presence for their line who has youth on his side as well at age 25. John Cominsky and Isaiah Buggs were added to the team at a similar time of year, and both stuck around on lucrative free agent deals this spring. Jones can be extra depth to help spell Alim McNeill up front, and could help account for any loss of Levi Onwuzurike, a player whom the Lions might not know if they will get back healthy.

Heading toward the draft, the lions could be in play to select a defensive lineman early on, either in the middle or on the edge. Names like Tyree Wilson, Jalen Carter, Will Anderson Jr. or Calijah Kancey could make sense for the team when they select.

Doing so would give the team yet another young weapon to throw at the opposition on the field along with guys like Cominsky and Buggs, who earned their stay by working hard. Now, Jones can be added to that mix.

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