Reports: Lions agree to deals with LBs Kennard, Jones

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — The Detroit Lions reportedly have made their first splashes in free agency, agreeing to terms with a pair of linebackers, Devon Kennard and Christian Jones

Fox Sports is reporting Kennard will ink a three-year deal, worth $18.75 million. Jones’ pact will be two years, according to ESPN.

Text messages to the Lions and the players’ representatives were not immediately returned.

A fifth-round draft pick out of USC in 2014, Kennard has spent the past four seasons with the New York Giants. He’s appeared 52 games, starting 35, racking up 203 tackles, 9.5 sacks, eight pass defenses and three forced fumbles.

Unlike a traditional 4-3 linebacker who plays off the ball, the Giants primarily used the 6-foot-4, 256-pound Kennard, 26, as an edge rusher in 2017. He would give the Lions a versatile piece for the new defensive scheme being installed by Matt Patricia.

Jones also came into the NFL in 2014, signing with the Bears as an undrafted free agent out of Florida State. He’s missed just one game in his four-year career, starting 11 of 16 last season while recording a career-high 90 tackles.

Both Kennard and Jones also played key special teams roles for their clubs. Jones played 233 special-teams snaps last season, the third-most on Chicago’s roster, while Kennard was on the field for 143 special-teams plays.

The additions likely signal an end for Tahir Whitehead’s tenure with the Lions. The sixth-year linebacker, and team’s leading tackler the past two seasons, has spent his entire career with the team after being selected in the fifth round out of Temple in the 2012 draft.