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Tracy Walker picked a beneficial time to win his first NFC Defensive Player of the Week honor of his four-year career in Detroit. Set to hit free agency this offseason, Walker proved he can make the kind of impact plays that add figures to his next paycheck.
The Lions would like to keep Walker, especially considering the importance of the safety in Aaron Glenn’s defense and the lack of talent around Walker at the position. Only Will Harris returns under contract and he played better at cornerback. But it’s going to cost them, something Walker made clear.
In his final media appearance after the 2021 season, Walker balanced a tone between his desire to be back in Detroit and his desire to cash in on the open market.
“Like I said, I want to be a part of this tradition that’s been started here, but at the end of the day, that’s not up to me, honestly,” he said. “I’m here just to do what I do best and do my job. That’s for the upstairs and for my agents to decide, so as far as that, I let them handle that and I control what I control and that’s by making plays on the field.”
He appreciates the culture change and the new coaching in Detroit under Dan Campbell in 2021. Walker was one of the players whose game and psyche suffered the most under former coach Matt Patricia. He bounced back with a strong 2021, leading the Lions in tackles and establishing himself as one of the team’s leaders. It’s a very real draw for Walker to remain with the Lions.
“I feel like with these coaches, they believe in the players,” Walker said. “They understand what it’s like to be a player first off and so they’re open ears. Sometimes we might not always be right as players, but they’re still open to hear it and that’s the biggest thing for me. Like I said, that was the biggest difference, honestly, and so I respect these coaches for that, like I said, giving me a voice. And allowing me to voice my opinions and hearing me out regardless of if I’m right or wrong. And that’s the difference between these coaches and that’s why I respect them the way I do.”
But Walker could likely find that respect elsewhere too, and his agents will field plenty of offers. It’s a deep free agent class at safety, but the 26-year-old Walker will be one of the top ones on the market.