The offseason training program officially began Monday in Allen Park, meaning the Lions had to get some housekeeping matters in order with their restricted and exclusive rights free agents.
Jason Fox signed his one-year, $1.323 million RFA tender and will immediately get to work at trying to secure a starting tackle spot with the absence of Jeff Backus (retirement) and Gosder Cherilus (signed with Colts).
A fourth-round pick out of Miami in 2010, Fox is expected to contend for one of the two vacant tackle jobs with Riley Reiff and Corey Hilliard.
Defensive end Willie Young signed a one-year deal instead of his $2.023 million RFA tender, though details of the contract were unknown.
A seventh-round pick in 2010, Young will compete for a starting role at right defensive end with Cliff Avril (signed with Seahawks) and Kyle Vanden Bosch (released) no longer with the team.
The Lions signed Jason Jones in free agency this offseason and have said he’ll play initially at left defensive end.
Fox and Young had to sign on the dotted line to participate in the offseason training program.
The team also signed all four of their exclusive rights free agents – Joique Bell, Shaun Chapas, Ricardo Silva and Kris Durham – who will all participate in the offseason training program.
RB Joique Bell
Bell finished second behind Mikel Leshoure in rushing yards for the Lions last year with 414 yards. He was also the team’s third-leading receiver, with 52 receptions for another 485 yards. He scored six total touchdowns.
Durham caught eight passes for 125 yards and a touchdown as a late-season starter.
Silva played in 10 games in 2012 with six starts. He finished with 40 tackles and an interception and will compete for a backup role at safety behind Glover Quin and Louis Delmas.
Chapas played in three games last year with one catch as a reserve tight end/H-back. The team also brought back receiver Brian Robiskie on a one-year deal after he was released last week. Robiskie caught four passes for 44 yards and a touchdown in six games last year in a reserve role.
Terms of the deal were unknown, but if he signed for the veteran minimum, that only counts for $555,000 toward the 2013 salary cap and saves the Lions some money.
According to the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, the Lions are restricted to strength and conditioning work as well as rehabilitation during the first two weeks of the offseason training program.