Are there more free agent acquisitions in the Lions' future?

Posted Mar 17, 2013

Detroit was one of the more active teams in free agency last week, but there could be more signing to do

PHOENIX, Ariz. – The Detroit Lions said they were going to be "selectively aggressive" before free agency began last week. It turns out that meant being one of the more aggressive teams in all the league with the signings of key players like running back Reggie Bush, safety Glover Quin and defensive end Jason Jones.

Detroit also secured the services of some of their own pieces in cornerback Chris Houston, safety Louis Delmas, defensive end Willie Young, safety Amari Spievey, offensive tackles Corey Hilliard and Jason Fox, linebacker DeAndre Levy, long snapper Don Muhlbach and receiver Kassim Osgood.

Team president Tom Lewand did a fine job fitting all those deals under limited cap space with some creative structuring and little help from players like Ndamukong Suh, who restructured his current deal and saved the Lions more than $7 million.

Free agency isn't done yet, though.

The Lions still have some decisions to make and usually there's a deal or two made at the annual NFL League Meetings taking place over the next few days. The team signed running back Kevin Smith to a deal during the meetings last year.

There are definitely some lingering questions remaining for the Lions this offseason.

What is the future of Lawrence Jackson?

The Lions currently have just three defensive ends on the roster in Jones, Young and Ronnell Lewis, who was the team's fourth-round pick in 2012. Combined, those three players have 31 total starts and all of those belong to Jones. The Lions have obvious plans for Young, or they wouldn't have tendered him a restricted free agent contract at a second-round level. Is being a starter in those plans?

The Lions likely need two more edge rushers before minicamp time roles around, though. It's likely one of those spots is filled via next month's draft. Could the other be Jackson?

The five-year veteran has expressed interest in rejoining the Lions. He knows the system and has a track record of production within it.

Linebacker Justin Durant is still job hunting.

I couldn't help but chuckle Saturday when I saw the new avatar on Durant's Twitter account. It you want a good laugh check it out at @JDurant52.

Durant has been pleading for a job come fall. Why he doesn't have one yet, as a young linebacker in his prime coming off a 100-tackle season, makes me wonder what the asking price currently is. Is it too steep for the Lions right now?

The Lions have Ashlee Palmer under contract for the next two seasons and also have Tahir Whitehead and Travis Lewis waiting for their shots. Let's not forget this draft features quite a few playmakers at outside linebacker, and one of those could be in play for the Lions at No. 5. Durant's future as a Lion has some question marks attached to it at this point.

Lions seem to be fine with the youth movement happening up front.

Offensively, the Lions are taking a bit of a gamble entrusting the protection of their franchise quarterback and the health of their running game to three relatively inexperienced tackles in Riley Reiff, Corey Hilliard and Jason Fox.

There's a combined five NFL starts in that group. It appears the Lions have decided it's time for these young players to prove themselves.

Reiff was the team's No. 1 draft choice last year as the heir apparent to Jeff Backus at left tackle. But he can also play guard, and could conceivably end up there depending on any further acquisitions – draft or otherwise.

Fox and Hilliard will compete for a starting tackle spot and Bill Nagy and Rodney Austin will be in the mix at guard.

It was time for a change upfront for the Lions and they've decided a youth movement is a way to go. Stay tuned.

Will it be a 22nd year for Jason Hanson?

It appears Jason Hanson has made up his mind and wants to play a 22nd season with the Lions.

Do the Lions want him back?

Hanson showed last year that he could still put the ball through the upright, which is, and always will be, job No. 1 for a kicker. He ranked toward the bottom of the league in touchbacks, though, and the Lions are looking to shore up that area of the special teams. Whether that's Hanson proving he still has the leg or signing a punter who can also kick off seems yet to be determined.

Hanson made $2.55 million last season on the final year of a four-year, $7.9-million contract signed in 2009. The Lions don't appear to be in a position to pay anything close to that in 2013, so, Hanson's asking price could be part of the equation as well.

Is a receiver still in the cards?

The Lions reportedly made an offer to free agent receiver Domenik Hixon and have used their first three pre-draft visits taking a closer look at some of the draft's best talent at the position in Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson and Robert Woods.

The team also has some internal options in Kris Durham, Patrick Edwards, Devin Thomas and others, but it appears general manager Martin Mayhew is making good on his after-season promise to never stop looking for weapons to surround Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson with.