Detroit Lions re-sign C Evan Brown, keep starting OL and top backups intact for 2022

Evan Brown played well enough in 12 starts as an injury replacement for Frank Ragnow that the Detroit Lions did not want to risk losing him in free agency this week.

Brown and the Lions agreed to an extension on the eve of the free-agent negotiating period Sunday that will keep Brown in Detroit through at least the 2022 season.

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Brown played for three teams in his first three NFL seasons before finding a home with the Lions late in 2020. He played sparingly during stints with the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns, but became a key cog on the Lions' front last fall.

Lions head coach Dan Campbell speaks with Lions center Evan Brown (63) during the second half against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, in Atlanta.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell speaks with Lions center Evan Brown (63) during the second half against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, in Atlanta.

Brown allowed two sacks last season and ranked ninth among centers in ESPN's pass block win rate.

The Lions have their top seven offensive linemen from last season under contract for 2022: Starters Ragnow, Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson, Penei Sewell and Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and backups Brown and Matt Nelson.

New offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said the unit has the ability to be "dominant" at the NFL combine last week.

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"Not just good, but dominant,” Johnson said. “I think those guys over the course of last year showed at one point in time, all five of the starters and even the guys that played that were more backup types to start the year, they showed the ability to be not just be a good unit but one of the best in the NFL."

By signing Brown before the free negotiating period opens at noon Monday, the Lions have now locked up their top four restricted free agents.

Special teams ace C.J. Moore agreed to a one-year deal Sunday reportedly worth up to $2.4 million. Last month, the Lions signed fullback Jason Cabinda and linebacker Josh Woods to extensions.

The Lions have 12 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on Wednesday, including safety Tracy Walker and defensive end Charles Harris.

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

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions agree to one-year extension with C Evan Brown