Detroit Lions' Brad Holmes on re-signing Jarrad Davis: 'Everybody deserves second chances'

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PALM BEACH, Fla. — Jarrad Davis' first go-round with the Detroit Lions was a disappointment by just about any measure.

Brad Holmes is confident Round 2 will go much better.

"I think everybody deserves second chances," Holmes, the Lions' second-year general manager, said Tuesday at the NFL's annual meeting. "We did see some things on tape that encouraged us to think that he’d be a good fit here."

The 20th overall pick of the 2017 draft, Davis had a rocky four seasons in Detroit before signing with the New York Jets in free agency last spring.

Titans running back Derrick Henry breaks away from Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis during the first half Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn.
Titans running back Derrick Henry breaks away from Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis during the first half Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn.

The Lions never made the playoffs and posted three last-place finishes in the NFC North with Davis on their roster, and he never evolved into the every-down linebacker the Lions thought they were getting coming out of Florida.

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Still, Holmes said he liked Davis enough as a player that he tried to sign Davis as a free agent last year before getting "priced out" of the market. The Jets gave Davis a one-year deal worth $5.5 million, plus incentives.

Davis missed eight games with the Jets last season because of ankle injuries and played a rotational role upon his return. He hit the market again this spring without much fanfare and signed a one-year deal worth just over $1 million with the Lions last week.

"It feels brand new, honestly," Davis said in a news conference to announce the signing. "It’s amazing like how life works. Like, you step away from something or you step away from a thing and you feel like, you don’t know what’s going to happen after that. After you turn your back and you walk out the door, you don’t know if that door’s going to ever open up again. You don’t know what it’s going to hold, you don’t know what the reunion looks like, you don’t know anything, if there is even going to be a reunion. But it’s just amazing to have an opportunity to come back in this building and to be able to go to work."

New York Jets middle linebacker Jarrad Davis (52) in action against the New York Giants during a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New York Jets middle linebacker Jarrad Davis (52) in action against the New York Giants during a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Davis rejoins his old college teammate, Alex Anzalone, in the Lions defense and will compete for playing time alongside Anzalone with Derrick Barnes, Josh Woods, Chris Board and whoever the team adds in April's draft.

Holmes said he had "a lot of transparent discussions" with Davis before free agency last year and that Davis "really liked what we were doing." With the Jets, Davis kept tabs on the Lions through teammates, and when the two sides renewed acquaintances this spring, Davis told Holmes he enjoyed his celebratory video from last spring's draft and felt like Detroit was where he belonged.

MORE FROM HOLMES:

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"I thought it was a testament of not just kind of like what we did last year, cause I tell all the free agents and everybody, I said, 'Hey look, I don’t have to sell what our culture is and what we’re about. Just ask the players on our team and just ask them,'" Holmes said. "But it was cool to hear Jarrad say that."

Davis said he's in a good spot with his ankle after returning too early from the injury last year, and Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday he thinks Davis is "heading to a really good spot."

“I love J.D." Saleh said. "I thought he was going to have a really good year. He had a really good OTAs, was having a really good training camp. Obviously, he hurt his ankle and really rushed himself back to be a part of the team, so any issues that he may have had during the season were really him playing on a bum ankle. Really excited for him to go back to Detroit, get another opportunity."

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Robert Saleh: Detroit Lions 'a really good spot' for Jarrad Davis