As talks with Jamaal Williams apparently moved too slowly, the Detroit Lions pivoted to David Montgomery.
The longer Jamaal Williams went without re-signing with the Detroit Lions, the odds he wouldn’t be coming back improved. On the heels or a report from Tyler Dunne of GoLongTD suggesting the two sides were far apart in talks, Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the Lions are signing running back David Montgomery to a three-year, $18 million deal with $11 million guaranteed.
Montgomery was drafted 73rd overall in the 2019 draft by the Chicago Bears. He has one 1,000-yard season on his resume, and he has never rushed for less than 800 yards in his four NFL seasons. His career per-carry average isn’t great (3.9), but his 185 broken tackles over the last four seasons (per Pro Football Focus) are fifth-most in the league over that span and his forced missed tackle rate was tied for best in the NFL last season (125 carry minimum).
NFL Free Agency: Detroit Lions pivot and upgrade with David Montgomery
Montgomery had a career-high 54 receptions in 2020, followed by 42 catches in 2021, and he averaged 9.3 yards per reception last season. It’s easy to think he was underutilized as pass catcher in Chicago, whatever the reasons. That’s an element Williams (38 catches in two seasons, 12 in 2022) just didn’t offer in his time as a Lion, by design due to the presence of D’Andre Swift or otherwise.
It’s also fair to say Montgomery has been running behind awful offensive lines with the Bears, and he’s now trading that for one of the best offensive lines in the league in Detroit. More yards before contact, with his ability to break tackles….I don’t think I need to elaborate other than to say that’ll work.
As hard as it will be for some Lions fans to see Williams go, and he is going to be gone, the Lions got younger (Montgomery willl turn 26 in June) and better in their backfield with this move. The contract details should ultimately reveal what amounts to a two-year commitment, and drafting a running back in April is not entirely off the table.