Why Detroit Lions adding Jamaal Williams, Michael Brockers are sound moves in this rebuild

Detroit Free Press

A couple hours after I wrote about the Detroit Lions taking their sweet time in free agency, they went out and made two moves to upgrade their roster.

Late Tuesday night the Lions agreed to terms on a two-year deal with running back Jamaal Williams worth up to $7.5 million, someone I mentioned Monday on Twitter as being the type of player the Lions should look for as a complement to their backfield.

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Williams was not spectacular in his four seasons with the Green Bay Packers, but he is the type of player who can do a little bit of everything.

He catches the ball; he has 97 receptions and just three drops over the past three seasons, according to Pro Football Reference. He is a power runner, the likes of which the Lions do not currently have on their roster. And he is one of the NFL’s best pass-protecting backs, which is something assistant head coach Duce Staley said is non-negotiable for Lions running backs.

“The most important thing with the running backs in my opinion … you’ve got to protect the passer,” Staley said last month. “That’s the most important thing. And I take pride in that. I take pride in making sure our quarterback doesn’t hit the ground. And that’s the most important thing for me. You can be one of the most talented runners out there, you can be the most talented route runner out there, but if you can’t block, you can’t play for me. Point blank, period. So we’re going to start there, that’s how we’re going to end it.”

Williams is not going to lead the Lions to a Super Bowl or supplant D’Andre Swift as starter, but he is a nice addition for a team that likely will be running the ball a ton this fall.

I project Williams as the Lions’ No. 2 running back, ahead of Kerryon Johnson, an excellent pass protector in his own right but not nearly as durable as Williams. I would keep Johnson around for the final season of his contract if I were the Lions, but they might prefer to take a young running back in the draft.

In the Lions’ second move of the overnight hours, they agreed to a trade with the Los Angeles Rams for defensive tackle Michael Brockers.

NFL Network reported the Lions are giving up a 2023 seventh-round pick in the deal, which was your basically salary dump for the Rams.

L.A. had asked Brockers to take a pay cut in recent weeks, and Brockers, who is due $8 million this fall, declined.

Whatever the compensation, the Lions got an upgrade for their defensive line, someone who has been a consistent inside presence over his nine-year career and is genuinely excited, according to a person who knows him, to be coming to Detroit.

Brockers will no longer have the luxury of playing next to Aaron Donald, the greatest defensive player of this generation, but he still can have an impact rushing the passer while playing alongside Romeo Okwara and Trey Flowers.

Like Williams, Brockers makes the Lions better, though we still are talking about a team that is a far cry from being playoff caliber.

I doubt Williams or Brockers will be around when it’s time for the Lions to contend in a few years; Brockers is the type of player the Lions might even be able to flip for another draft pick this fall.

But both should help general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell get their program established and help the Lions keep their head above water as they embark on their rebuild.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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