Veteran defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs has made it clear for months now via media appearances and social media posts that his preferred destination in free agency was re-signing with the Detroit Lions.
On Monday, the Lions made that a reality, re-signing Buggs to a two-year extension through the 2024 season.
"The first day I stepped in this facility, coaches, players, everybody treated me like I've been here my whole career," Buggs said after signing his new extension on Monday. "I really felt at home here."
View photos of Detroit Lions defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs.
Now Buggs enters his second season with Detroit after setting career highs in games played (17), games started (13), total tackles (46), quarterback hits (10), forced fumbles (one) and sacks (1.0) this past season. He's a versatile player who can play any technique along the interior of Detroit's defensive front.
"The more I played I got really, really comfortable in this system and in this program," he said. "Every game for me was just get better each and every game and each practice was get better each and every practice and I found myself doing that."
He said his decision to re-sign with the Lions came down to wanting to be part of what general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell are building in Detroit.
"We are going to build something great here and I want to be a part of it when it happens," he said.
Buggs, 26, quickly became a team leader and the catalyst behind the player-only meeting Lions defensive players had after their 1-6 start. That unit shaved nearly 12 points per game allowed off their defensive totals the rest of the season following that meeting and finished the year 8-2, nearly making the playoffs. Buggs had a few dominating performances down the stretch, particularly Week 14 vs. the Vikings (one sack, two QB hits, two hurries and a 28 percent pass rush win rate) and the regular-season finale in Green Bay (seven tackles).
Buggs spent his first three seasons in the NFL in Pittsburgh before signing in Detroit as a free agent last offseason. He said he loves the coaching staff Campbell has assembled and the fact that this defense grew so much towards the end of the year. It's still a relatively young defense in Detroit with a number of rookie contributors expected to take big leaps in their second season. Detroit also has five draft picks in the top 81 and cap space to add more veteran talent to that side of the ball this offseason.
"We're young, but I feel like we're going to be ready," Buggs said. "Everybody knows the system. I feel like everyone is ready to buy in and become a great defense."