LIONS INSIDER

NFL free agency begins for now former Lions

Posted Mar 11, 2014

A number of key contributors the past few years for the Lions are now set to hit free agency

We tend to view free agency as a time of great promise for NFL teams, a time when a player or two can change the course of a new season.

But what we sometimes forget is that the first day of free agency also spells the end of some current players’ employment with the team.

Rashean MathisCB Rashean Mathis (Photo: Gavin Smith)

A number of current Detroit Lions became free agents when the clock hit 4 p.m. today, marking an uncertain future with the team.

Players like tight end Brandon Pettigrew, defensive end Willie Young, quarterback Shaun Hill, cornerback Rashean Mathis and others are now open to test the free agent waters, and potentially sign new deals.

In all, 14 players who were on the roster last year have just become free agents.

Top among that list is Pettigrew, who’s widely considered the top tight end on the market. He could command as much as $32 million, which is the amount the Ravens paid tight end Dennis Pitta to stay in Baltimore.

Young was a seventh-round draft pick by the Lions in 2010 and has steadily improved his game over the years. He had 47 tackles and three sacks in 2013 and ranked 15th among all defensive ends, according to Pro Football Focus, with 60 quarterback pressures.

Defensive end Everson Griffen and Michael Bennett recently signed big deals to stay with their teams. Griffen signed five years at $42 million with Minnesota and Bennett four years and $28.5 million to stay in Seattle. Young isn’t expected to get that kind of money, but he has value on the open market.

Hill has widely been considered one of the best backups in the NFL over the last few years, even though he’s seen only a few snaps the last two seasons as Matthew Stafford’s backup. The Lions could be on the market for a developmental quarterback or another veteran if Hill signs elsewhere.

Mathis was signed midway through training camp last year and turned out to be their most consistent cornerback.

The Lions are expected to get some free agent help over the coming days and weeks, but their also going to lose a number of good football players.

That’s the deal with free agency.