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DT Alim McNeill on Lions’ extension radar

7/8/2024 12:17:01 PM
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The 2024 Lions offseason has been defined in large part by big-ticket extensions handed out on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Jared Goff, receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and right tackle Penei Sewell all signed deals which will keep them in Detroit for the foreseeable future.

Several other candidates for extensions remain, though. Among those is Alim McNeill, who has developed into a mainstay along the Lions’ defensive line (a unit which added D.J. Reader in free agency), Adam La Rose of Pro Football Rumors reports. The 24-year-old is set to enter the final season of his rookie contract, making him eligible for a new deal. The degree to which he has progressed so far likely has him on the team’s extension radar, Colton Pouncy of The Athletic writes.

McNeill’s play in 2024 will go a long way in determining his value on a new Lions pact, and Pouncy adds Detroit’s plans with other pending free agents (such as left tackle Taylor Decker and cornerback Carlton Davis) will likely depend on how things play out with McNeill. The latter served in a rotational capacity during his rookie campaign, but in the two years since then he has developed into a notable pass-rushing presence from the interior.

The NC State alum recorded five sacks and 13 pressures last season despite being limited to 13 contests by an MCL injury. McNeill returned in time for the playoffs, adding a sack and three QB hits as the Lions progressed to the NFC title game. Another productive campaign in 2024 – a year in which the Lions expect to take a step forward in the front seven – would put him line to join the growing list of young defensive tackles who have secured notable paydays on their second contracts. A quartet of players in that regard (Quinnen Williams, Jeffery Simmons, Dexter Lawrence, Daron Payne) inked deals averaging between $22.5 million and $24 million per year last offseason.

Christian Wilkins, Justin Madubuike and Derrick Brown landed similar extensions of their own this spring, providing McNeill and the Lions with plenty of comparable pacts should they negotiate one. However, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes that no deal is considered imminent at this time. Team and player may elect to wait until next offseason to evaluate the situation and engage in talks on what could be a very lucrative second deal.

“I’m just working,” McNeill said (via Birkett) when asked about a potential extension. “I’m head down, whatever happens, happens. I’m just – I still have to play good to set myself up to even get any of that, so I’m [not] worried about that right now.”

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