Shelton becomes the fourth member of the New England Patriots to join the Lions over the past two offseasons under Detroit head coach Matt Patricia, the former Patriots defensive coordinator. Jamie Collins agreed to a deal with the Lions on Monday, while Trey Flowers and Danny Amendola left New England for Detroit prior to the 2019 season.
Shelton was one of the surprise stories of the Patriots’ 2019 season after re-signing with the team on a modest one-year deal in late May, well after the initial free-agent flurry.
At the time, he was projected to be on the roster bubble. Instead, he emerged as a starter alongside Lawrence Guy as the Patriots’ second big-bodied defensive tackle. Shelton played in all 16 regular-season games, setting career highs with 61 tackles and three sacks.
His primary role came on early downs, and he would often be replaced in more obvious passing situations. At 6-foot-2 and 345 pounds, Shelton plays with great strength, which is one of his primary assets.
Shelton, 26, entered the NFL as a 2015 first-round draft choice of the Cleveland Browns. The Patriots initially acquired him in a trade on March 15, 2018, and he’s been a solid fit in their multiple scheme.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss contributed to this report.