Lions sign Alex Anzalone to bolster depth at linebacker, add receiver Damion Ratley

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

The Detroit Lions lost one former Florida Gators linebacker in free agency, but added another on Wednesday, signing Alex Anzalone. 

According to the NFL Network, the one-year deal is worth up to $1.75 million.

Linebacker Alex Anzalone played in 16 games last season for the Saints, including nine starts. He made 41 tackles.

Anzalone's college teammate, Jarrad Davis, signed a free-agent deal with the New York Jets earlier this offseason. 

Davis was selected in the first round by the Lions in 2017, with Anzalone coming off the board two rounds later to the New Orleans Saints. The 6-foot-3, 241-pounder has appeared in 38 games the past four seasons for the Saints, including 20 starts. 

Anzalone appeared in all 16 games last season, making nine starts and racking up 41 tackles, including three behind the line of scrimmage. 

Durability has been an issue at times for Anzalone. He's finished two of his four seasons on injured reserve with shoulder issues, something that plagued him during his college career, as well. He was limited to 18 games across four seasons at Florida. 

"Anzalone's size, speed and athleticism will be tempting for teams looking for a linebacker who can play all three spots," Lance Zierlein wrote in his scouting report for NFL.com ahead of the draft. "However, concerns about his durability could cause some teams to shy away from him on the first two days of the draft. If he can stay healthy, he has the talent to become a solid three-down starter in the league."

In New Orleans, Anzalone primarily lined up outside, but does have some experience manning the middle linebacking spot. 

He joins a linebacking corps in Detroit badly in need of reinforcements. In addition to Davis, the team also lost Reggie Ragland in free agency and released veteran Christian Jones in a cap-saving move.

Lions add another receiver

In addition to Anzalone, the Lions also announced the signing of wide receiver Damion Ratley.

A sixth-round draft pick out Texas A&M in 2018, he spent his first two seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He was claimed off waivers by the New York Giants last September, prior to finishing the year on the Houston Texans practice squad. 

Ratley was drafted by the Browns when John Dorsey was the team's GM. He's currently serving as a senior advisor to Lions general manager Brad Holmes. 

The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder Ratley has appeared in 31 games, including six starts with Cleveland. He's caught 29 passes for 407 and one touchdown. 

During his career, he's shown the ability to line up both outside and in the slot, as well as contribute on special teams. Coming out of college, Ratley posted impressive measurables at this pro day, including a 4.39-second time in the 40-yard dash. 

Ratley is the fourth receiver the Lions have added to the roster this offseason, along with Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman and Kalif Raymond. The latter's agreement was announced by his agent on Tuesday, but has yet to be officially confirmed by the team.

 jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @justin_rogers