The Detroit Lions are getting some help along their defensive line, turning to a familiar trading partner to land it.
The Lions and Los Angeles Rams agreed to a trade that sends defensive tackle Michael Brockers to Detroit. According to an NFL.com report, the Lions are giving the Rams a future seventh-round draft pick in return.
Selected in the first round of the 2012 draft (14th overall), Brockers, 30, is entering his 10th season, having played his first nine with the Rams organization. He started 15 games last season, tallying 5.0 sacks — his highest total since 2013 (5.5).
The cap-strapped Rams reportedly attempted to rework Brockers’ contract before considering a trade, but were unable to come to terms with the 6-foot-5, 305-pounder.
The Lions, after cutting several veterans in recent days, including defensive tackle Danny Shelton, are in position to absorb Brockers’ hefty $8.5 million cap hit. The move clears $7.2 million off the books for the Rams.
In Brockers, the Lions are acquiring a durable leader who should help stabilize the team’s defensive front and help new general manager Brad Holmes and coach Dan Campbell instill their culture.
The veteran defensive lineman has appeared in at least 13 games each season of his career, including 63 of 64 (62 starts) the past four seasons. A top-tier run defender, he also provides some juice as a pass-rusher, generating 30 or more quarterback pressures three of the past four years, according to Pro Football Focus.
Interior pressure was a glaring weakness for the Lions last season. Nick Williams led the team’s defensive tackles with just 13 pressures.
Brockers has also long been considered one of the Rams locker room leaders, even before he was selected a team captain starting in 2018.
“The biggest thing for me is I want to win and a lot of these young guys have to play and have to step up,” Brockers said when first selected captain. “I’m all about getting them up to speed, so when it comes time for them to get in a game, they won’t be nervous and they’ll be up to speed and they can play and make production.”
The trade, once finalized, will mark the second time Holmes has negotiated a deal with the Rams, the organization he worked for the previous 18 years prior to signing on to be the Lions GM this offseason.
In January, the two teams agreed to swap quarterbacks, with the Lions agreeing to send Matthew Stafford to the Rams in exchange for Jared Goff, two future first-round draft picks and a third-round pick in this year’s draft. That trade can be finalized starting Wednesday afternoon, coinciding with the start of a new league year.
The reunion with Goff might be slightly awkward for Brockers, after he told TMZ earlier this month the addition of Stafford was an improvement for the Rams.
“Is it a level up? In my heart, deeply, just understanding what he brings, it’s a level up,” Brockers said. “It’s a level up.”