Free agent running back Jamaal Williams has found a new home, one day after the Detroit Lions decided to move on from their leading rusher.
Williams, who set a Lions single-season franchise record with 17 rushing touchdowns last year, reportedly agreed to a three-year, $12 million contract with the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday.
The Lions and former Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery agreed to a three-year, $18 million deal Tuesday.
Montgomery is expected to be introduced at a news conference Thursday, after he officially signs his contract.
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The Lions pivoted to Montgomery after negotiations with Williams fell apart. They were believed to be offering Williams a similar deal to the one they gave Montgomery.
Montgomery’s contract includes a $4.5 million signing bonus and $11 million over the next two seasons, with another $500,000 available annually in per-game roster bonuses.
Williams led the Lions with 1,066 yards rushing last season and became the first Lion to top 1,000 yards since Reggie Bush in 2013.
A fan favorite in Detroit, Williams had said he hoped to return to the Lions.
On Wednesday, he posted a thank you message to Lions fans on social media.
“I just wanna say thank you to all the Detroit fans and everybody apart of the hidden village of the den,” Williams wrote. “I’ve grown a lot just from those two years and I appreciate every experience I had with every person I came to encounter while I was there.”
“I appreciate y’all and know the KazeKage always pushing forward with that warrior mindset to be great,” Williams wrote in a second post.
In New Orleans, Williams likely will split time in the backfield with Alvin Kamara. He had 1,667 yards and 20 touchdowns on 415 carries in two seasons with the Lions.
Contact Dave Birkett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Ex-Detroit Lions RB Jamaal Williams reportedly signs with New Orleans