The Detroit Lions have re-signed backup offensive tackle Matt Nelson, maintaining stability for their top unit, the offensive line. Nelson has been a key reserve for the Lions for the past two years, starting 11 games in 2021 as both left and right tackle, and making 11 appearances as the team’s swing tackle last season.
Originally an undrafted free agent out of Iowa, Nelson spent a year transitioning from defensive line to offensive tackle on the Lions practice squad before playing as a sixth lineman in 2020. The Lions had the option to tender Nelson as a restricted free agent but chose to re-sign him to a new contract instead.
The addition of Nelson gives the Lions 11 offensive linemen on their roster, including four pure offensive tackles – Sewell, Decker, Nelson, and Eze – and guard/tackle Darrin Paulo. With at least four of their five offensive line starters returning this fall – Decker, Jackson, Ragnow, and Sewell – the Lions aim to maintain their strength in the offensive line from a depth perspective.
Awaiting Evan Brown’s decision
While the Detroit Lions try to keep their offensive line intact, they await Evan Brown’s decision. Brown, who started 24 games at center and right guard for the Lions over the past two seasons, is one of the top interior linemen scheduled to hit the market. Meanwhile, Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s future is uncertain after missing all of last season following back surgery, and given his $9.4 million contract for 2023.
The Lions have been active in re-signing some of their top unrestricted free agents, including linebacker Alex Anzalone and nosetackle Isaiah Buggs. They have also tendered contracts to five exclusive rights free agents and re-signed running back Craig Reynolds on a one-year deal. In addition, the Lions have agreed to a three-year deal with Pittsburgh Steelers free agent cornerback Cam Sutton.
The Lions are expected to continue adding players to their offensive line, most likely through the draft or after, as they aim to enter spring camp with 15 linemen. This allows them to rotate through three lines, providing depth and flexibility. With the re-signing of Nelson, the Lions have taken a step towards maintaining their strength in the offensive line, and will continue to look for opportunities to improve.
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Featured Image Syndication: Detroit Free Press