Lions flashback: Alex Anzalone, Kalif Raymond signed 3 years ago

It’s been three years to the day since the Lions added free agents Alex Anzalone and Kalif Raymond into the den. What at the time seemed like minor moves have turned into very shrewd deals for Detroit. They were also early indicators of the type of free agents that this Lions regime, and specifically GM Brad Holmes, are looking to add every year.

Anzalone was one of head coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn’s former players with the New Orleans Saints, so he was not a surprise signing for the new regime in Detroit. Added on a one-year deal worth $1.75 million, the off-ball LB was a calculated gamble on a really good athlete and high football IQ player who had struggled to stay healthy in his career.

Raymond was more under-the-radar. A seldom-used, 5-foot-8 wideout for the Titans, Raymond’s signing did little to excite Lions fans accustomed to splashier additions. He was primarily viewed as the Jamal Agnew replacement as the Lions’ return specialist and gadget-play wideout. Of course, Raymond has proven to be much more than that. Only Amon-Ra St. Brown and Josh Reynolds have caught more passes for Detroit over the last three seasons than Raymond, who has also been a special teams fixture.

Both Anzalone and Raymond have re-signed with Detroit since those first free-agent contracts three years ago. Nothing says Brad Holmes more than that; instead of signing outsiders to lucrative long-term deals, Holmes offers fair-market, short-term deals to make sure a player fits and finds his role with Dan Campbell’s team. Hitting on these two and converting them into longer-term roster staples epitomizes the Holmes-Campbell era in Detroit and the Lions’ rise into a viable Super Bowl contender.

Story originally appeared on Lions Wire