The Detroit Lions approach to the 2023 free agency period has been aggressive and directed. Unlike previous seasons, they have gone after targets and have been unwilling to wait on their own free agents who have decided to test the market.
Jamaal Williams was one of the emotional leaders of the Lions’ 2022 season and was entering free agency coming off a career season that saw him eclipse the 1,000-yard mark on the ground and broke Lions records for touchdowns scored in a single season.
To no one’s surprise, Williams rightfully planned on testing the free agency market, but Williams was such an important piece to the organization last season, most believed they would reach an agreement.
When the free agency period opened, the sides remained in conversation, but it wasn’t long before reports of the two sides being “far apart” on terms surfaced.
By Tuesday night, the Lions and Williams could not reach a deal and both sides went in different directions, with the Lions signing running back David Montgomery and Williams signing in New Orleans.
There have been a lot of rumors surrounding the circumstances of why the two sides couldn’t agree—some wildly speculative—with no clear answers about what went wrong.
On Friday, Williams met with the Saints media and was asked directly about his offer from Detroit. Williams, as is typical, was not shy about sharing his feelings:
“They been done with me. I could tell. The offer they gave me, I feel like was very—just disrespectful. Just showing that they—you know—really didn’t want me to be there, like that. But it’s all love. Like I know my teammates, everybody there at the Detroit Lions have love for me and all that. But, at the same time, we couldn’t come to terms with things.”
Williams suggesting a “disrespectful” offer seems to line up with what MLive’s Kyle Meinke had heard about the Lions offer, as he offered his thoughts both on Twitter and his most recent Dungeon of Doom podcast.
And While Meikne could very well be spot on, there have been some conflicting reports on the Lions offer.
For example, Dave Birkett of the Free Press wrote that the Lions “were believed to be offering Williams a similar deal to the one they gave Montgomery.” Which lines up closely with what some sources have told Pride of Detroit.
We may never get a clear answer to what happened behind closed doors, but I’m sure both sides are eager to put the negotiations behind them and focus on the future.