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Davis on returning to Detroit: 'This is the place that pretty much raised me'

The Detroit Lions are bringing back a familiar face.

Former Lions first-round pick Jarrad Davis signed an unrestricted free-agent contract with the Lions on Friday to give them another veteran in their linebacker room.

Talking to reporters after signing his deal, Davis said he didn't realize how much he missed Detroit and playing for the Lions when he left to sign with the New York Jets in free agency last year.

"This is the place that pretty much raised me," Davis said about his return to Detroit. "Knowing how much I enjoyed it. Especially getting a chance to see and really realize how much I missed it when I was gone. Every time wasn't always a good time, but ball here is fun. I enjoy this place, man. I really do. It just feels right.

"It's just amazing to have an opportunity to come back in this building and to be able to go to work. I love it. This place is just so familiar. I know it. There's people in the city that can help me be a better person and better player. There's so many things that excite me about coming back to Detroit."

Davis was the team's first-round pick (No. 21 overall) in the 2017 NFL Draft and was an immediate starter as a rookie. He played his first four seasons in Detroit. The team opted not to pick up his fifth-year option in 2020, making Davis a free agent last offseason. He spent last year with the Jets, playing nine games with five starts and recording 25 tackles.

He played in 55 games with the Lions from 2017-20 with 45 starts. He recorded 330 tackles (219 solo) with 19 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. His best season was in 2018, when he notched triple-digit tackles (100) and 6.0 sacks to go along with 10 tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hits.

After that injuries started to take their toll on his play.

Davis missed the first couple games of the 2019 season after suffering an ankle injury in the preseason and was never really the same when he came back. He played in 11 games in 2019, but also missed the last three games as he finished the year on injured reserve. He played in 14 games with four starts in his last season in Detroit in 2020.

Detroit's been busy adding veteran depth to their linebacker room through the first two weeks of free agency. Davis joins Alex Anzalone, Chris Board and Shaun Dion Hamilton as recent signings at the linebacker position. Those players now join Derrick Barnes, Josh Woods, Anthony Pittman, Tavante Beckett and Curtis Bolton.

In Detroit, Davis will also reunite with Anzalone for the first time since the two played at Florida together from 2013-16. The two combined for 280 tackles, 25 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks for the Gators before each player was selected in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Go behind the scenes with the Detroit Lions during 2022 free agency.

Davis knows the expectations on him are a little different this time around than they were in 2017 coming in as a first-round draft pick, but he seems just fine with having to prove himself again.

"It excites me because I've told people plenty of times it's not always easy to be on the top of the mountain," he said. "But for me my whole entire life I've loved the climb. I appreciate that. I appreciate how much it brings the best out of me. I appreciate how much it pushes me to really grow and develop, so excited for any opportunity I can get."

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