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O'HARA: With deal in place, Anzalone can turn his attention to 2023 season

Detroit Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone has a sense of relief from having a multi-year contract that gives him security to prepare to play knowing he'll be with the Lions for an extended period of time.

Anzalone, who is going into his seventh pro season and third as a Lion, agreed to terms and signed his contract Wednesday.

"It was a huge relief to get it done -- especially to get it done earlier," said Anzalone, who would have become an unrestricted free agent had he not had a new contract.

Anzalone played his previous two seasons on one-year contacts. With the Lions' fortunes on the upswing, he wanted to return to the Lions and continue that trend.

"It's nice to be able to start focusing on next year and have that out of the way and get going with football," he said.

"It's something as a young player you want. I was finally able to obtain that. To be part of something special like this that is important to me and my family and to win in this city is going to be the focus and is all of our goal moving forward.

"I love doing it. I'm glad I came back for that. I feel like I can leave my legacy at a place like this."

Anzalone's role has grown steadily with the Lions. He was one of the defensive captains, and he calls the defensive signals.

His teammates appreciate the role he plays.

Defensive lineman John Cominsky, who also re-signed with the Lions this week, talked about having Anzalone back as a veteran leader of the defense.

"He's a coach on the field," Cominsky said. "We need him up front. We need him in the back end. To have that leader, that vocal leader, he's a quarterback on the defense. He commands plays and communicates.

"He gets the back end and the D-line on the same page. We need that solid leader – the coach on the field.

"We're excited to have him back, no doubt."

View photos of Detroit Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone.

The 2022 season – Anzalone's second with the Lions after spending his first four seasons with the Saints – was his best.

He played all 17 games and led the defense with 1,080 snaps played, 125 total tackles and 77 solo tackles. Anzalone's tackle stats were career highs.

Anzalone played his best ball in the last 10 games, when the Lions went 8-2 to finish 9-8 for the season and missed making the playoffs as a wild card on a tiebreaker to Seattle.

Anzalone had 70 tackles in the last 10 games, four tackles for loss and an interception

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