Detroit Lions revamp linebacking corps, add Devon Kennard, Christian Jones

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SportsPulse: Free agent signings cannot turn out to be official till Wednesday, however loads of large names are already committing to new groups.

Matt Patricia wished a powerful linebacking corps, and the Detroit Lions are utilizing free company to provide their new coach his want.

The Lions agreed to phrases Tuesday with a pair of free-agent linebackers who ought to step into speedy beginning roles for his or her new-look protection.

New York Giants linebacker Devon Kennard agreed to a three-year, $18.75 million deal, an individual aware of the contract advised the Free Press, and NFL Network reported that the Lions and Chicago Bears linebacker Christian Jones have a two-year, $7.75 million deal in place.

Players can’t signal contracts with new groups till the 2018 league yr opens at Four p.m. Wednesday.

More: NFL free agency rumor mill: The latest updates

Patricia stated final week on the NFL mix he wished to construct his protection from the inside and outside, and that started with having dependable linebackers.

When Patricia received his first full-time job as an NFL place coach, it was as linebackers coach for the New England Patriots for a gaggle that included Junior Seau, Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel.

“When you stroll right into a room with Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Junior Seau, Willie McGinest, Rosevelt Colvin, these are going to be the blokes that you just’re sort of constructing round from there,” Patricia stated. “So that’s sort of my start line.”

The Lions drafted two linebackers final season in Jarrad Davis and Jalen Reeves-Maybin who’re anticipated to have large roles on protection this fall, however linebacker nonetheless was a significant place of want with Tahir Whitehead and Paul Worrilow as free brokers.

Davis, final yr’s first-round choose, made 96 tackles in 14 video games as a rookie and tasks because the Lions’ beginning center linebacker this fall.

Reeves-Maybin, who performed in 14 video games as a backup final yr, is smaller than typical Patriots linebackers at 6 ft and simply 230 kilos, however he performed properly in nickel packages and may have at the very least an identical function this yr.

Lions basic supervisor Bob Quinn has stated Reeves-Maybin must get greater after a shoulder harm restricted his work within the weight room main as much as the NFL draft.

In Jones and Kennard, the Lions add two completely different kind linebackers, each 240-plus kilos, who ought to vie for time on the skin.

Kennard, the son of ex-NFL offensive lineman Derek Kennard, had 4 sacks in 15 video games with 11 begins for the Giants final yr, the place he performed typically as a go rusher.

He tasks to play as a hybrid strong-side linebacker within the Lions’ new protection.

Jones performed inside linebacker within the Bears’ Three-Four protection, the place he had 90 tackles and two sacks — together with one in all Matthew Stafford — a season in the past, however might transfer to exterior linebacker for the Lions and may play a key function on particular groups.

The Lions entered the week with six key defensive rotational gamers headed totally free company and will find yourself shedding 5 of them.

Whitehead and Worrilow appear unlikely to re-sign now that Kennard and Jones are in place, high defensive deal with Haloti Ngata is weighing a contract offer from the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, and cornerbacks Nevin Lawson and D.J. Hayden are low-priority re-signings because the Lions pursue different choices within the secondary.

The crew did signal security Tavon Wilson to a new two-year deal on Tuesday, maintaining him off the free-agent market, however there’s extra work to be accomplished.

If Ngata leaves, the Lions may have a large gap to fill on the defensive deal with spot — Eagles backup Beau Allen is one potential substitute — and so they stay available in the market for a No. 2 cornerback to begin reverse Darius Slay.

Contact Dave Birkett: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett

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