Lions Team Captain Reacts to Detroit Signing DT D.J. Reader

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported the Detroit Lions signed veteran defensive tackle D.J. Reader to a 2-year contract on March 14. It’s safe to say Lions linebacker and defensive captain Alex Anzalone is a fan of the signing.

Lions strengthen defense, signing DJ Reader to 2-year deal worth up to  $27.5M, AP sources say

Anzalone took to X (formerly Twitter) to express his excitement about the Lions adding Reader to the team’s defensive line.

“Mac, Reader, Hutch and Marcus up front is who you want walking off the bus first,” Anzalone wrote on X. “LFG!”

Standing at 6-foot-3 and 335 pounds, Reader is certainly intimidating while walking off any bus. With that size, he posted 34 combined tackles, including 2 tackles for loss and 7 quarterback hits with the Cincinnati Bengals during 2023. He also had 1 sack, 1 pass defense and 1 fumble recovery.

Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz reported that Reader’s 2-year is worth up to $27.25 million. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport added that Reader will receive more than $9 million guaranteed.

How DT D.J. Reader Fits With the Detroit Lions

Despite signing defensive end Marcus Davenport, Lions fans on social media have been calling for the team to make a big splash for the defensive line. The Lions answered those calls with Reader.

Like Anzalone, members of Lions media expressed their excitement about Reader coming to Detroit.

“Hopefully y’all can chill out,”’s Ben Raven wrote on X. “Good stuff here by getting Reader. When he’s healthy, he’s a stud, full stop.”

Reader hasn’t played a full season since 2019. But in two of the past three seasons, he dressed for at least 14 contests.

He began his career as a fifth-round pick for the Houston Texans in 2016. He started seven contests as a rookie and became a full-time starter during his second season. Reader joined the Bengals after his rookie contract expired.

Reader has excelled throughout his career according to the Pro Football Focus player grades. During 2023, Reader finished with the third-best PFF player grade on the Bengals defense (among players with more than 25 snaps). It was the second straight year he had a grade of 82 (out of 100) or better.

He posted a career-best 85.4 PFF grade in 2019 and has recorded a 79 grade in two other seasons.

Among defensive tackles who played at least 50% of his team’s defensive snaps in 2023, PFF ranked Reader 11th.

Reader will turn 30 in July, but the Lions do not have him signed past 31 years old. He will slot in next to defensive tackle and rising star Alim McNeill, who was second on the Lions with 5 sacks last season.

With Reader and McNeill clogging the middle, Anzalone’s life at linebacker could be a lot easier next season.

Remaining Needs the Lions Could Address in Free Agency

It’s currently unclear how much Reader will count toward the Lions salary cap in 2024. Prior to the signing, the Lions had $28.4 million remaining in cap space.

How much Reader consumes of that space will impact what else Detroit will do this offseason. But the major needs on the roster appear to be filled.

In addition to Reader, the Lions have signed Davenport to pair with Aidan Hutchinson at defensive end. Detroit also added cornerback Amik Robertson.

The Lions signed all three of those players to 1 or 2-year deals to give the team long-term flexibility.

Furthermore, the Lions traded for cornerback Carlton Davis, who should be the team’s new top cover cornerback.

Detroit was on the cusp of a Super Bowl appearance last season, but its poor pass defense couldn’t hold onto a 17-point halftime lead in the NFC championship game. The Lions were 27th in pass defense and 29th in net yards allowed per pass attempt during the 2023 regular season.

The Lions added Reader, Davenport, Robertson and Davis for essentially the same reason — improve the team’s pass defense.

The Lions may now turn their attention to offense. Detroit lost starting guard Jonah Jackson in free agency. The team’s second-leading receiver Josh Reynolds is also a free agent.

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