Allen Park — Not only are the Detroit Lions set to bring back the entirety of the team’s starting offensive line, but they’ve also managed to keep a top backup in the fold. Days ahead of the start of free agency, the Lions have reached an agreement on a one-year deal with Evan Brown, a source familiar with the negotiations confirmed with The Detroit News.
Additional terms on the agreement were not immediately available.
Brown had been a restricted free agent but would have become unrestricted, free to sign with any team, had the Lions not extended a tender this week. The tenders for restricted free agents range from $2.4 million to $5.4 million, but are guaranteed only for injury. By signing a traditional contract, Brown secured at least a portion of his 2022 earnings that would be guaranteed.
The Lions similarly signed restricted free agent C.J. Moore to a one-year deal over the weekend. His new, $1.75 million contract includes $800,000 in guarantees, plus incentives that allow him to earn up to $2.4 million.
Brown’s new contract comes on the heels of a breakout season. Stepping in for injured Pro Bowler Frank Ragnow beginning in Week 5, Brown more than capably handled Detroit’s center position the remainder of the campaign.
Undrafted out of SMU in 2018, Brown initially signed with the New York Giants. From there, he would spend time with the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns, making a handful of appearances with each of the three franchises before landing on Detroit’s practice squad late in the 2020 season.
Brown appeared in two games for the Lions at the end of 2020, playing 44 offensive snaps. He made his first start last season against the Minnesota Vikings and missed just one game, due to contracting COVID, the rest of the way.
While the 6-foot-3, 320-pound Brown is seemingly best-suited for the center position, the Lions also view him as a capable backup at both guard spots.
“When we first got him, a couple weeks in, all of a sudden he’s playing guard for us, and he played really well,” offensive line coach Hank Fraley said near the end of last season. “He’s very reliable. When he puts his mind to it, I think he can do whatever he wants. Size is just a number. Could he play at guard and start at guard? Yeah, he could do that. He’s done well for himself and I think each week he’s gotten better and better. The more you play, that’s how it seems to work.
“… He’s got a chance to become a really good player in this league, a solid player in this league.”