Detroit Lions signed RB David Montgomery in free agency, said goodbye to Jamal Williams

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The Detroit Lions will have a new workhorse in their backfield in 2023.

The Lions agreed to a three-year, $18 million contract with free agent Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery late Tuesday. according to several reports,

Montgomery’s signing, which could become official as early as 4 p.m. Wednesday, means the end of Jamal Williams’ time in Detroit.

Bears running back David Montgomery (32) tackles Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone at Ford Field on January 1, 2023 in Detroit.

Williams led the Lions in rushing with 1,066 yards and the NFL with 17 rushing touchdowns last season. A fan favorite in Detroit, Williams became the first Lion to top 1,000-yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2013 and Broke Barry Sanders’ franchise single-season touchdown record.

He said after the season he hoped to sign a long-term extension with the Lions, and the two sides met earlier this month at the NFL combine to discuss a new contract.

In Montgomery, the Lions believe they have upgraded their offense with one of the most productive and durable backs on the market.

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A third-round selection out of Iowa State in 2019, Montgomery topped 200 carries in each of his four seasons with the Bears. He ran for career-highs of 1,070 yards and eight touchdowns in 2020, topping 800 yards the previous two seasons and averaging 3.9 yards per carry on nearly 1,000 attempts for his career.

Lions coach Dan Campbell called Montgomery the “starting point” of the Bears’ offense last season.

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“He’s tough,” Campbell said in 2021. “He is. He runs hard. He’s shifty. He can get under you. There’s no crowd around the football when he carries it, man, he can tear you down. So yeah, he’s got those stable One of the players that he is.

Jamal Williams runs with teammates after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter of the Lions' 20-16 victory over the Packers on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Jamal Williams runs with teammates after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter of the Lions’ 20-16 victory over the Packers on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Montgomery ran for 106 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Lions in 2021, but the 25-year-old had 61 yards on 15 carries in two games last season, both Lions wins.

The Lions finished fifth in the NFL in 2022 and fourth in total offense, and had 128.2 yards per game — their best performance since Sanders’ second-to-last season in Detroit in 1997.

Montgomery joins a backfield that also includes De’Andre Swift, Jamar Jefferson, Craig Reynolds and fullback Jason Cabinda. Swift had 99 carries for 542 yards last season and dealt with shoulder and ankle injuries for most of the year.

New Lions running backs coach Scotty Montgomery said at the combine this month He wanted “smart, tough and reliable” backs in his backfield.

“We have to protect the quarterback and protect the football,” he said. “We’re going to do our job to do those things and then we’re going to support our players in the room. It’s a brotherhood, right? We talk about it. It’s not always going to be on my mind.” Going to do.” Hand. Football will not always be in my hands. It could have been in someone else’s hands but we were overjoyed and had to be there for our brother like we were about to carry the football. ,

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Contact Dave Birkett at [email protected], follow him on twitter @davebirkett.

This article was originally published on the Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions Add ‘Dangerous’ RB David Montgomery To Backfield