Lions strengthen defense, signing DJ Reader to 2-year deal worth up to $27.5M, AP sources say

The Detroit Lions made a relatively bold move to strengthen their run defense by signing veteran defensive tackle DJ Reader on Thursday.

The Lions landed Reader with a two-year contract worth up to $27.5 million, two people familiar with the deal told The Associated Press. One person said the contract includes $9.5 million in guarantees. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the terms were not announced.

Reader represents the biggest move this offseason by general manager Brad Holmes, whose contract was extended as was coach Dan Campbell’s deal earlier in the day, to potentially help Detroit take at least another step next season.

The defending NFC North champion Lions, who reached the conference championship game for the first time since the 1991 season, previously made a series of less splashy moves.

Detroit acquired cornerback Carlton Davis from Tampa Bay; signed edge rusher Marcus Davenport and cornerback Amik Robertson; and re-signed guard Graham Glasgow, special teams ace Jalen Reeves-Maybin and cornerbacks Emmanuel Moseley and Khalil Dorsey.

The 6-foot-3, 335-pound Reader should help the Lions stop the run, and provides playoff experience. He has played in 12 postseason games, starting all of them, for the Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans.

In eight seasons, Reader has started in 97 of 105 games. He has 277 tackles with 9 1/2 sacks. New England drafted him out of Clemson in the fifth round in 2016 and traded him to Houston, where he played for four seasons before signing as a free agent with the Bengals in 2020.

Reader had 34 tackles, including one sack, last season in 14 games before he had a season-ending leg injury in December.


AP Sports Writer Larry Lage in Allen Park, Michigan, contributed to this report.