Just 18 days after re-signing with the Lions, running back Justin Jackson has retired from the NFL at age 27, the team announced Thursday. The former Chargers reserve, who appeared in 16 games for Detroit in 2022, was competing for the No. 3 RB job and reportedly also expected to serve as the team's primary kick returner.
The Lions overhauled their RB room this offseason, trading D'Andre Swift and signing former Bears starter David Montgomery to replace Jamaal Williams, then spending a first-round draft pick on Jahmyr Gibbs. They re-signed Jackson, whose contract expired in March, on July 22 to compete with Craig Reynolds and Jermar Jefferson for the third-string role.
Jackson, who scored two touchdowns in 2022, had seemingly become the front-runner to earn that job in training camp. Originally a seventh-round pick of the Chargers out of Northwestern in 2018, he spent his first four years in Los Angeles, totaling just over 1,500 scrimmage yards behind the likes of Austin Ekeler, Melvin Gordon and Joshua Kelley.
The Lions on Thursday signed former Steelers reserve Benny Snell Jr. to bolster the preseason RB competition. Jackson, meanwhile, is the second notable RB to abruptly retire in recent weeks. Former Patriots starter Sony Michel rejoined the Rams to compete for a reserve role on June 20, .