As a precursor to free agency and the NFL Draft, Pride Of Detroit will take a look at each position on the Detroit Lions roster. The series continues with a look at the offensive tackle position.
Under contract: Jeff Backus (through 2013), Riley Reiff (through 2015 + club option for 2016)
Free agents: Gosder Cherilus (UFA), Jason Fox (RFA), Corey Hilliard (UFA)
The Detroit Lions' starting offensive line is expected to look a bit different in 2013. After having the same group of starters for a few seasons, the Lions have already decided to make a change at right guard. At offensive tackle, changes could be made as well with Jeff Backus pondering retirement and Gosder Cherilus set to become a free agent.
Let's start with Backus. He is entering the final year of his contract, and he will likely retain his starting job at left tackle if he decides to return. I would personally be surprised if Backus decides to retire, as there haven't really been any signs that he is ready to walk away from the game.
At right tackle, Cherilus is coming off of the best season of his career. Many analysts believe he was the Lions' best offensive lineman in 2012, which bodes well for him as he enters free agency. The tackle market is quite deep, so he may not be able to go out and get a monster contract, but I don't expect him to return to the Lions. They have Riley Reiff ready to enter the starting lineup after playing a supporting role last season, so it's not like the Lions are going to be under pressure to re-sign Cherilus.
In addition to Cherilus, Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard are set to hit free agency. Fox is a restricted free agent, and the Lions view him as a potential starter, so he will almost surely be back. The Lions also want to bring back Hilliard, who can play multiple positions.
Where the Lions roster stands: Offensive tackle
Pride Of Detroit | Feb 26