David Montgomery was one of the top free agent running backs available, and the Detroit Lions had plenty of competition to sign him.
When talks to bring Jamaal Williams back stalled out, the Detroit Lions made quite a pivot to former Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery. Montgomery is an undeniable upgrade over Williams, who ultimately signed with the New Orleans Saints.
Montgomery was one of the best free agent running backs available this year, and it seemed there was little or no chance he was going to go back to the Bears. Plenty of teams could have seen a fit for themselves and one of the more underrated running backs in the NFL, who also happens to have some peak years left coming up on his age-26 season. The Bears were unwilling, or surely unable in some ways, to maximize his potential.
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune addressed Montgomery, and the idea of if the Bears could have kept him, in a Friday mailbag question (subsciption required).
Lions had plenty, and some notable, competition to sign David Montgomery
Here’s the insight Biggs had on the free agent pursuit(s) of Montgomery (h/t to Dov Kleiman of Bro Bible).
That Montgomery had a number of suitors is not a surprising revelation. It is interesting the Lions and Bears division rival Minnesota Vikings pursued him, as they are clearly willing to move on from incumbent lead back Dalvin Cook.
The Bears made a token offer to re-sign Montgomery, and with nothing guaranteed beyond the first year (according to Biggs) that’s what it was–a token offer. They ultimately signed D’Onta Foreman to a one-year, $3 million deal to pair him with 2023 breakout candidate Khalil Herbert in their backfield.
Biggs’ note pointing to Williams miscalculating his market is noteworthy to see come from a reporter outside Detroit. It’s clear that he did, even though he felt the need to call the Lions offer to him disrespectful. Lions general manager Brad Holmes strongly insinuated they had allocated a certain level of resources for Williams, and gave the same deal to Montgomery (three years, $18 million) when Williams/his agent balked.
Williams signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the Saints (que the sad trombone).
It worked out nicely for the Lions, as it seemed unlikely they’d sign someone like Montgomery if Williams did depart. But they naturally had to beat out some competition to get him, including not one but two division rivals.