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As the offseason progresses, the Detroit Lions have been making moves to reshape their roster under the guidance of General Manager Brad Holmes. While some signings have been met with approval and excitement, such as the acquisitions of talented defensive backs C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Cam Sutton, and Emmanuel Moseley to bolster the secondary, there have also been questionable decisions. In my opinion, the worst signing Holmes has made thus far is inking LB Alex Anzalone to a three-year deal. Let's dive into the reasons behind this assessment and consider the implications for the Lions moving forward.
Brad Holmes' Love for Alex Anzalone
There's no denying that Holmes and the Lions coaching staff has expressed a clear affinity for Alex Anzalone. They see something in him that they believe can contribute positively to the team. However, when examining Anzalone's performance and skill set objectively, it becomes apparent that the Lions may have overestimated his value.
An Average Linebacker at Best
While Anzalone has shown flashes of potential during his time with the Lions, his overall body of work suggests that he is an average linebacker at best. Inconsistent performances and struggles in coverage have raised doubts about his ability to make a significant impact on the field. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, Anzalone was the No. 53 ranked linebacker in the NFL in 2023, behind fellow Lions' LBs Malcolm Rodriguez and Derrick Barnes.
The Three-Year Extension Mistake
The decision to sign Anzalone to a three-year extension is particularly perplexing, especially when it pretty much guarantees that he will be around through the 2024 season, even if he plays poorly this coming season. As you can see below, Anzalone's cap hit will be a modest $2.5M, but that hit goes up to $7.3 million in 2024 with a dead cap hit of $6.6 million. Because of that, releasing Anzalone after the 2023 season, even if he plays poorly, will not be an option for the Lions. That being said, they could get out of the contract in 2025 if they really wanted to as the dead cap hit drops to $2.4 million.
All of that being said, regardless of how Anazalone plays this coming season, the Lions are committing at least $12.2 million to him over the next two seasons, which, in my opinion, is overpaying for an average linebacker at best.
Here are the cap details, via Spotrac:
|YEAR||AGE||BASE SALARY||SIGNING||ROSTER/GM||CAP HIT||DEAD CAP||YEARLY CASH||CASH AAV|
|POTENTIAL OUT: 2025, 2 YR, $12,200,000; $2,400,000 DEAD CAP|
As a writer covering the Detroit Lions, I am obligated to provide my perspective on their off-season moves. However, it's important to acknowledge that my opinion may differ from that of General Manager Brad Holmes, who is well-versed in making personnel decisions. Only time will reveal whether this signing will prove successful or if it will be remembered as a misstep.
While the Lions have made notable strides in bolstering their secondary with quality additions, the decision to extend Alex Anzalone's contract raises questions. It remains to be seen if Anzalone can overcome his inconsistencies and deliver the level of play necessary to justify the Lions' confidence in him.
As the season approaches, Lions fans will eagerly await the opportunity to witness the team's new acquisitions in action. Only then will we have a clearer picture of how these moves, including the signing of Anzalone, will impact the Lions' performance on the field.