New Details Revealed About Lions’ Jamaal Williams-David Montgomery Swap

Jamaal Williams

Getty Jamaal Williams on the field for the Lions vs. the Packers in 2023.

The Detroit Lions had a big decision to make this offseason as it related to the future of running back Jamaal Williams, and the team elected not to bring the popular runner back.

Instead, the Lions signed rival runner David Montgomery away from the Chicago Bears. That led to perhaps some hurt feelings for Williams, who could have felt as if the team didn’t prioritize his return enough.

Montgomery was very popular early in the market, with the NFC North zeroing in on the runner. According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune in a tweet shared by NFL aggregator Dov Kleiman, the Lions, Minnesota Vikings and Bears all wanted to bring Montgomery in, but Detroit’s offer ended up being the game-changer given what it offered.

“The Vikings had attempted to sign former Bears RB David Montgomery during free-agency, before he opted to take 3-year, $18M contract with the Lions, per Brad Biggs. This is of course, despite currently having Dalvin Cook on their roster,” Klieman tweeted. Details: The Bears offer to Montgomery did not include any guarantees after the first year of the contract, a source told Biggs. He adds that Jamaal Williams possibly turned down a deal with nearly identical terms to what Montgomery signed with Detroit.”

After signing with New Orleans, Williams claimed that the Lions made a “disrespectful” offer to try and keep him which was lower than what he signed with the Saints. In the end, though, reality might prove that this is not completely the case.

According to the report from Biggs, Detroit’s offer to Williams was possibly very similar if not identical to the one that the team used to reel in Montgomery when all was said and done.

Detroit and New Orleans will play in 2023, so Williams and the Lions will each get their shots at a measure of revenge after what played out. The Lions outgunning their NFC North rivals for Montgomery will be significant as well.

Brad Holmes Addresses Departure of Jamaal Williams

How did the Lions feel about Williams? Likely just as strong as some of their fans when all was said and done. Speaking at the NFL owners meetings on March 28, Brad Holmes confirmed the team did want to bring Williams back.

The Lions were working on a deal with Williams around the NFL combine and after, and the team thought they could get something done with their top in-house free agent.

“It was mutual interest. We wanted Jamaal back. Jamaal and I had good conversations at the end of the season about his desire to want to come back and that was legit. When we left the combine, we had conversation with his agent probably like either right before or after I spoke to you guys there, so thought that he was heading in the right direction and man, I love Jamaal,” Holmes said to the media.

As Holmes said, the Lions wanted to keep Williams because he was a whole package for the team and the offense. Unfortunately, though, football can be a business.

“Just everything that you guys know about Jamaal on top of his ability as a running back, those are all things that made us want to bring him back. From a budgeting and planning standpoint, we had an allotment of resources set aside and really forged them all We didn’t even really consider another running back higher than that amount of resources that we set aside for for Jamaal, and business happens. That’s part of this business and it just didn’t work. We tried.”

In the end, Williams didn’t come back to the team, but it doesn’t mean that the Lions didn’t try to keep him. Far from that fact.

David Montgomery Will Help Lions Rush Offense

The Lions are only a few years removed from struggling to have a 100 yard rusher in a game, but as their offensive line has improved and their running game has as well, things have turned around.

During the 2022 season, the Lions ran the ball well and finished as a top 11 unit in the league. Detroit churned out a total of 2,179 yards and nearly 128.2 yards per-game on average. They went for about 4.5 yards per-carry, and scored a gaudy 23 touchdowns, most of which were added by Williams, who had 17 scores.

Interestingly enough, Montgomery himself was part of a Chicago offense which had the best rush offense in the league during 2022. The Bears finished first, rushing for 3,014 yards and 5.4 yards per-carry average. Lots of that had to do with Justin Fields, but Montgomery was a big part of their success.

As Holmes explained, the Lions jumped at a chance to add a player of Montgomery’s skill given they know what he can do after watching up close.

“It got to a point where David was in play, kind of within the range of resources that we had set aside and that’s when we went ahead with David, which we’re extremely excited about,” Holmes said. “He’s a very good football player. He’s one of the guys that me and Dan talked about a lot when we play them. I mean yes, you’re definitely concerned about (Justin) Fields running, but really concerned about David Montgomery. He’s a hard guy to bring down. Ever since college and Iowa State he’s always kind of been at the top of forced tackled missed (lists) and he’s just a hard guy. He’s a tough runner. He’s good in the passing game, so he’s a great addition.”

Adding him to an already solid Lions offense that ranked top-four in the league should figure to help Detroit in a big way, and could give the Lions more of the explosion they seemed to lack at times during the 2022 season.

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