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Free-Agent Profile: Why LB Matt Milano Makes Sense for Lions' Defense

Read more on why free-agent linebacker Matt Milano makes sense for the Detroit Lions' defense

Matt Milano is a tough and dynamic, high-energy, sideline-to-sideline linebacker, and he is an impending free agent.  

There is an old saying in NFL scouting circles, which is "the film does not lie.” 

When turning on the game tape, Milano is all over the place. Every time I look at him on film or his name comes up, I fall in love with him all over again.  

Looking at the Lions' depth chart right now, my heart sinks when I see outside linebacker Jamie Collins penciled in as a starter. 

I did not like Collins as an evaluator in 2017 with Cleveland, and I did not like him when I looked at him on Detroit in 2020, either. Bill Belichick is the only coach who seems to get the most out of Collins. 

The Lions need to get better at linebacker -- if they want to contend -- and they need a whole lot more fire. 

That brings me back to Milano, a player who would be an instant upgrade for new Detroit defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn’s defense. 

Milano, who is ranked No. 38 on Pro Football Focus' list of this offseason's free agents, is a complete three-down linebacker who excels against the run, as well as at dropping into coverage. 

He also adds value as a blitzing linebacker who can apply legitimate pressure when his number is dialed up.  

He is also ultra competitive, and he makes everyone around him better. His level of play is contagious. Wherever the ball is, Milano is usually somewhere to be found around it. 

And, he plays for the love of the game. Clearly, football is important to him. 

Milano is a "throwback"-type player who could have played in any era.

Milano breaks up a pass intended for the Ravens' Mark Andrews. 

Milano breaks up a pass intended for the Ravens' Mark Andrews. 

On the flip side, the Lions' new GM (Brad Holmes), head coach (Dan Campbell) and defensive coordinator (Glenn) are not “familiar with him.” 

In most NFL circles, people only like to run with those who they are familiar with.

In other words, Milano comes from the Buffalo Bills, and that is not the “tree” that Holmes, Campbell or Glenn come from. 

That is not their “football DNA,” which will make it a lot tougher to get Milano over to the Lions. 

Additionally, he might come with too high of a price tag for Detroit's taste. 

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According to Spotrac’s projections, Milano will see an annual paycheck worth $13.8M, and the average NFL career is 3.3 years. 

Milano has already outplayed the average, with four years under his belt. 

When it comes to the crystal ball of free agency -- especially at the high-contact position of linebacker -- nobody knows exactly how this will play out.  

It's also important to note that he spent some time this past season on injured reserve with a partially torn pectoral muscle and with hamstring injuries. 

No doubt, injuries are always a concern, especially recent injuries like that -- which would have to check out to the Lions’ medical staff's satisfaction. 

Milano started 10 games last season, which is the lowest number of starts in a season in his NFL career. 

While this is a possible concern, Milano, however, did bounce back in the postseason and post 25 tackles in two playoff games. 

I am a huge fan of Milano. 

And objectively, the pros outweigh the cons of acquiring Buffalo’s most dynamic defensive player -- a guy who brings it against the run and in coverage against the pass, as well as brings some serious heat into the pocket. 

Just like when there is one lucky holder of a lottery ticket, so, too, will be the case with the winner of the Matt Milano "sweepstakes.” 

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