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Detroit Lions Sign DE Mathieu Betts, Look to CFL to Improve Pass Rush

The Detroit Lions signed Canadian defensive end Mathieu Betts on Tuesday. Betts was hands down the most successful pass rusher in the CFL this past season. He possesses a very quick first step and good speed that allows him to quickly penetrate the opponent’s backfield and pressure quarterbacks early into plays. Betts worked out for Detroit in December and also worked out for the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills.

DE Mathieu Betts – Laval (28 y/o, 6’3, 250 lbs)

Betts is declining offers of around $300,000 from the B.C. Lions and Hamilton Tiger-Cats which would have made him the highest-paid defensive player in the CFL to take his shot making an NFL roster.

Betts started all 18 regular season games for the BC Lions in the CFL last season. He set a record for most sacks by a Canadian in a single season with 18. He also accumulated 44 tackles, 4 forced fumbles, and a pass defended.

Betts was recognized as the CFL Defensive Player of the Year last season as well as being named to the CFL All-Star team. Pro Football Focus named him their selection for Most Outstanding Pass-Rusher in their 2023 CFL Awards.

According to Pro Football Focus Betts had 95 total pressures over the CFL season which was 23 more pressures than second place. He also had the highest pass-rush win rate over the regular season at 19.4%.

Over the 2 playoff games in 2023, he recorded 1 tackle. However, his presence was still highly impactful. By my count, he had 10 QB hurries over the 2 playoff games with an astonishing 8 QB hurries coming in the win against the Calgary Stampeders in the Western Semi-Final.

Betts has played in 55 CFL regular season games with 45 starts recording 81 tackles and 27 sacks. He entered the CFL in 2019 with the Edmonton Elks who drafted him third overall. He signed a 3 year contract with the Chicago Bears in 2019 as an undrafted free agent although he was among the players released during final roster cuts.

Betts played his college ball in Canada with Laval where he was U Sports Most Outstanding Rookie in 2015 as he led the nation with 12 sacks over 8 regular season games. He won the Vanier Cup with Laval in 2016 and 2018. He is the only player to win the J.P. Metras Trophy 3 times which is awarded to the most outstanding lineman in U Sports.

Over the 2023 NFL regular season and postseason, the Detroit Lions were graded by Pro Football Focus to have the 6th best run defense in the NFL. In pass rushing the Lions were graded at 19th by PFF. If Betts can replicate a fraction of his success in the CFL he will be a tremendous asset to the Detroit Lions’ pass rush.

One added benefit for Mathieu Betts is that he will have more opportunities to go see his favorite hockey team the Montreal Canadians while living in Detroit than he had the past 2 seasons in Vancouver as the Redwing are in the same division. It is also much closer geographically to his hometown of Montreal.

Jonathan Clink on Twitter

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Jonathan Clink Reporter
Jonathan Clink joined CFL News Hub in early April of 2023. His primary responsibilities are covering the BC Lions and Montreal Alouettes. He self awarded himself the CFL Rookie Journalist of the Year in 2023 following the 2023 CFL season. He also proclaims himself to be a "really cool guy". He was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and lived a large portion of his childhood in Northwest Ontario. He currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan and misses being being able to have 4 months of skating every winter. Clink has written over 240 articles for CFL News Hub. He was the publication's boots on the ground at the 2023 Grey Cup in Hamilton. Clink has always had an obsession for sport and has a background in other sports as well having played hockey all his life and soccer, basketball, and lacrosse in high school. As a young child he used to log his hockey statistics after every game which is either an indication that he was destined for the role or perhaps and indication that he is rather strange.
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