Safety Tracy Walker figures to be among the most coveted free-agent safeties on the open market this offseason.
After proclaiming his desire to become one of the best safeties in the NFL, Walker finished the 2021 season with 105 tackles (72 solo), three tackles for loss, one sack, one interception and six passes defensed.
“I personally see us being one of the best safety duos in the NFL. I feel like Will Harris has definitely stepped up, definitely has gotten a whole lot better, along with myself. I’ve definitely improved a lot, and we definitely built a great team," Walker said back in October. "Like I say, we’re a group of leaders back there, and we’ve taken control.”
His 14-tackle performance and interception in the season finale against the Green Bay Packers earned Walker an NFC Defensive Player of the Week nod in Week 18.
Speaking with reporters at the end of the season, the 26-year-old expressed a strong desire to return to the Lions in 2022.
"I want to be a part of this tradition that’s been started here. But, at the end of the day, that’s not up to me, honestly. I’m here just to do what I do best and do my job," Walker said. "That’s for the upstairs and for my agents to decide. So, as far as that, I let them handle that, and I control what I control and that’s by making plays on the field.”
The talented safety was among the players that benefitted most from the regime change.
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Under Matt Patricia, many players felt their voice was silenced, which resulted in resentment and players feeling disenfranchised.
While the new coaching staff may not implement each and every suggestion made by a player, the roster now has reassurance it will at least be heard and taken seriously.
“I feel like with these coaches, they believe in the players. They understand what it’s like to be a player first off, and so they’re open ears. Sometimes we might not always be right as players, but they’re still open to hear it and that’s the biggest thing for me," Walker said. "Like I said, that was the biggest difference, honestly, and so I respect these coaches for that, like I said, giving me a voice. And allowing me to voice my opinions and hearing me out, regardless of if I’m right or wrong. And, that’s the difference between these coaches, and that’s why I respect them the way I do.”
The importance of the safety position in defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn's scheme is clearly evident.
Retaining Walker will be among the top priorities of Detroit general manager Brad Holmes.
“Tracy had already been with us obviously, but a new scheme, a new regime, new coaching staff, and he responded well here, he really did," Holmes said. "I thought he played good football for us, and he really bought into everything that we’re doing. I was really happy for him."
The likelihood of Walker remaining in a Detroit uniform next season is quite high.
I will put the odds at 85 percent that Walker will be patrolling Detroit's secondary in 2022.