It seems like this off season the Detroit Lions will either rework their Offensive line to improve, or be forced to do so due to health concerns and free agency. Either way the offensive line is going to look a lot different that it has over the last three or so seasons. OG Stephen Peterman has already been released, the Lions face a tough decision on RT Gosder Cherilus, and we are still waiting to hear if LT Jeff Backus will return.
That leaves the Lions short one interior lineman as Center Dominic Raiola has reworked his deal to get another season with the club. The current O line has been together for the last three years and as played 46 of a possible 48 games together as a unit. However, that line has consistently underperformed, especially when attempting to run block.
The Lions do have last years first round pick Riley Rieff to likely take over one of the Tackle spots. They also have the underused (mostly due to injury), and nearly forgotten Jason Fox who was a fourth round pick out of Miami in the 20120 NFL draft. For the interior the Lions have Bill Nagy and Rodney Austin who are both currently listed a backup guards. Both of these guys can play all three interior line positions, but the Lions have to decide if one or either of them is ready to take on a starting role. We should note both of these players are largely unproven at the NFL level.
There is breaking news today that the Lions have given backup tackle Corey Hilliard a two year extension. That likely means Cherilus is done with the team. Of course if he takes a big pay cut, even if the market says he deserves a raise, he could be back. However, it seems time for the Lions to move on from Gosder as a fixture on this line.
How the Lions coaching staff will choose to assemble the line in 2013 is still anyone’s guess. We should expect to see Reiff playing full time at one of the OL positions and it seems like Hilliard, Nagy, and Austin will be competing for playing and/or starting spots. We should also expect the Lions to add another quality lineman to the mix via the NFL draft, and quite possibly free agency.