Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes wanted to re-sign Jarrad Davis last year when the veteran linebacker hit free agency, but he got priced out.
"It is true, we weren't able to afford to bring him back," Holmes said this past week at NFL owners meetings of Davis' $5.5 million deal with the Jets in free agency last offseason. "We wanted to, but we did get priced out when it came to that."
Davis ended up playing in nine games with the Jets (two starts), but battled an ankle injury and tallied just 25 tackles. He again became a free agent this offseason, and this time there was mutual interest by both Holmes and Davis for a homecoming in Detroit. Davis signed a one-year deal to rejoin the team that made him a first-round pick in 2017.
"I will say the cool thing about JD, and I don't want to sound like a broken record, but I can tell you nothing but the truth, hearing him as much as he wanted to come back here to Detroit and that kind of started with me, him and Dan (Campbell) had a conversation before free agency had really kicked off and we had a lot of transparent discussion," Holmes said.
"He really liked what we were doing and it was cool to hear him talk about – even when he was in New York – just keeping up with some of the guys that was with us. He just said it felt like home."
Davis echoed those sentiments when he spoke to the media after re-signing with the Lions.
"This is the place that pretty much raised me," he said.
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, 55 games total 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.
"He had some adversity that he battled last year, I think that's well known, but I think everybody deserves a second chance," Holmes said. "We did see some things on tape that encouraged us to think that he would be a good fit here."