LIONS INSIDER

TWENTYMAN: A look at the Detroit Lions' 22 free agents

Posted Feb 4, 2014

Some interesting decisions lie ahead for the Detroit Lions and the future of some of their unrestricted, restricted and exclusive rights free agents

The Lions have been focused on 2014 since about an hour after losing to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 17.

Part of that process has led them to a new head coach in Jim Caldwell and a lot of new faces in key positions on his staff.

The process of continuing to build a competitive roster will take place over the next few months with free agency (March 11) and the NFL Draft (May 8-10).

Part of the free agency process will be the Lions determining which of their own free agents they’ll want to resign, or part with.

Here’s a look at the 22 Detroit Lions free agents this offseason:

Unrestricted free agents (15)

David AkersK David Akers (Photo: Gavin Smith)

David Akers, kicker: Akers had a tough task trying to fill the shoes of Jason Hanson on a one-year deal. He was 19-of-24 kicking field goals and had two touchbacks on four kickoff attempts. The Lions are likely going to be looking for a young kicker this offseason they can invest in long-term.

Andre Fluellen, defensive tackle: Fluellen’s value is that he can play any of the four positions along the defensive line. He’s a bottom-of-the-roster type of player, but a player who has value because of his experience and versatility.

Jason Fox, offensive tackle: Fox won the starting right tackle job out of training camp last season, but couldn’t stay healthy, which has been the problem his whole career. Fox has talent, but the Lions simply haven’t seen enough of it in game situations. LaAdrian Waddle seems to have that right tackle spot locked up, which makes Fox once again a depth player if he wants to stay in Detroit.

Dylan Gandy, center/guard: Gandy has made a living as a backup swing center/guard. He was used in an extra tight-end role some this year, too. He’s played in 120 career games, but has just 19 starts.

Shaun Hill, quarterback: Hill is widely considered one of the best backups in the NFL. His services, however, haven’t been needed the last two years with Stafford staying healthy. Do the Lions try to re-sign Hill or go younger? It should be noted he and Stafford have a great relationship.

Israel Idonije, defensive end: The Lions didn’t see the impact from Idonije they were hoping. After a 48-tackle, 7.5-sack performance for the Chicago Bears in 2012, Idonije had just 11 tackles and a half sack for the Lions this past season in limited playing time. He is a good veteran presence in the locker room.

Rashean Mathis, cornerback: A terrific signing midway through training camp, the 11-year veteran became the Lions most consistent cornerback in 2013. Mathis was also a terrific mentor to young players like Darius Slay. He’ll be 34 before next season begins, but he proved he still has some game left in those legs. Maybe a short-term deal wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Lions.

Rocky McIntosh, linebacker: MacIntosh proved to be a nice addition as a backup linebacker and special teams performer. He made plays when given the opportunity on defense and was a part of special teams unit that drastically improved its cover abilities this season.

Don Muhlbach, long snapper: Few do it better than Muhlbach. He’s agreed to one-year deals in the past and another could be in store this offseason for the veteran.

Kevin Ogletree, wide receiver: Ogletree was signed on Oct. 2 to add some depth at receiver and finished with 13 receptions for 199 yards and a touchdown. He’s a No. 3 or No. 4 option at receiver.

Brandon Pettigrew, tight end: Pettigrew is valuable because the Lions don’t have another player like him on the roster. Few teams do. He’s the best all-around tight end they have. After a slow start to the 2013 season, he finished another solid season. Pettigrew is a three-down tight end and there’s value in this league for players like that.

Dominic Raiola, center: Is coming off the best season of his 13-year career. Pro Football Focus rated him the second-best center in the league this past season. His play this past season probably earned him at least another year of service. The Lions will be on the lookout for the future of the position, however.

Micheal Spurlock, wide receiver: Spurlock started the year as the Lions kickoff and punt return man. He lost that job to Jeremy Ross, however, and was eventually released before signing back with the team late last year. It seems a long shot Spurlock will have a role moving forward, but that will be for the new coaching staff to decide.

John Wendling, safety: Wendling remains one of the best special teamers in the league and Lions special teams coordinator John Bonamego would love to have him back in 2014.

Willie Young, defensive end: Young got a chance to be the man at the left defensive end spot when Jason Jones went down with an injury. Young finished with 47 tackles, three sacks and defended five passes in 15 starts. Those numbers are decent, but not great.

Restricted free agents (2)

Joique Bell, running back: At the very least expect the Lions to give Bell, 27, a second round tender with a price tag between $2-$3 million. Bell has become a big part of the Lions offense with his unique combination of power and balance. Both sides could try to get a long-term deal done.

Dorin Dickerson, tight end: Dickerson probably won’t get an original-round tender offer from Detroit for over $1 million, but that doesn’t mean the team wouldn’t want him to be a part of training camp and try to earn a role as a receiving tight end.

Exclusive-rights free agents (5)

Kris Durham, receiver: Finished 2013 catching 38 passes for 490 yards with two touchdowns. He’s got good size (6-6, 220) to be a quality No. 3 or No. 4 possession receiver.

Chris Greenwood, cornerback: Greenwood showed some real promise when given an opportunity to play late in the season. The former 2012 fifth-round pick has the size, speed and athletic ability teams covet. He simply needs more experience and expect the Lions to give him some.

Julian Stanford, linebacker: Stanford has experience and brings something to the table on special teams. He’s a depth player worth an invite to training camp.

Jeremy Ross, receiver: Ross proved to be an explosive return man (two return touchdowns in 2013) and he could see an expanded role in the slot, depending on what the team decides to do with Nate Burleson, and how Ryan Broyles recovers from his ACL surgery. He's got great size for the slot, but needs to work on his hands a little more.

Matt Veldman, tight end: Veldman made his NFL debut in Minnesota week 17.  He’s another player who could get an invite to training camp to see what he can do.