2014 Combine

NOTEBOOK:The future at center; free agents not returning and more

Posted Feb 21, 2014

The Lions want to find Dominic Raiola's eventual replacement at center, much like they did at left tackle in 2012 with Riley Reiff

INDIANAPOLIS – The Detroit Lions have a center for the 2014 season after signing Dominic Raiola to a one-year, $1.5 million deal this offseason.

Dominic RaiolaC Dominic Raiola (Photo: AP Images)

Beyond 2014, however, there isn’t a solid game plan, which is something the Lions will try and rectify this offseason.

Expect general manager Martin Mayhew and his staff to search for their center of the future via the draft or free agency this offseason, much like they did in 2012 when they drafted Riley Reiff in Jeff Backus’ final season with the team.

“I think if you go back, the Backus transition went pretty smoothly by going out and finding the right candidate, a guy that we felt comfortable with that could move into that role and we hope to do sort of the same thing with Dom’s situation,” Mayhew said Friday down at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Whether it’s a young free agent or whether it’s a guy in the draft to get a young guy behind him that we feel comfortable with.”

The Lions also have Leroy Harris under contract for 2014 and Mayhew said he feels comfortable if he has to play center.

The team will not bring back free agent Dylan Gandy, who’s been the backup center for the last five seasons.

One talent evaluator told me there’s a lot of talent in this year’s center class and teams with needs there will find help in “multiple” rounds.

DECISIONS ON FREE AGENTS

The Lions are saying goodbye to five unrestricted free agents.

Gandy, linebacker Rocky McIntosh, kicker David Akers, defensive end Israel Idonije and safety John Wendling will not be offered contracts to return in 2014.

The most significant of those is probably Akers, who was the team's place kicker this past season, converting 19 of 24 field goals.

It means the Lions will be on their third kicker in three years.

Two exclusive right free agents who will be back, according to Mayhew, are receivers Jeremy Ross and Kris Durham.

Ross became the Lions return man halfway through the season and finished averaging 16.2 yards on punts and 29.3 yards on kickoffs with both a punt- and kickoff-return touchdown in 10 games.

Durham appeared in all 16 games and finished with 38 receptions for 490 yards and two touchdowns.

POTTER AND TAVECCHIO GETTING THEIR CHANCE

With Akers not part of the Lions’ plans moving forward, the team is turning first to John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio.

The team signed Potter and Tavecchio to futures deals in January.

“We’ve got two young guys that we like as reserve-future guys that we have done some work on and we felt really good about,” Mayhew said. “So we’re going to work with those guys for a while and see how those guys do.”

Tavecchio was with Green Bay in the preseason last year before being cut. He converted 48 of 64 field goal attempts while in college at Cal.

Potter, a Western Michigan University alum, was a seventh-round pick of the Bills in 2012. He spent time in Washington last year and made three of his four attempts.

QUIN HAS MINOR SURGERY

Safety Glover Quin had a minor procedure on the injured ankle that bothered him for most of last season.

The ankle simply wasn't healing as fast as Quin would like and he decided to take care of it once and for all.

Quin injured the ankle early in the season and still managed to play in all 16 games.

The very minor procedure won't prevent Quin from returning to the field for the offseason training program.

ABDUL-QUDDUS SIGNS ONE-YEAR DEAL

The Lions have signed safety Isa Abdul-Quddus to a one-year deal.

The team claimed him off waivers after the Saints cut him Jan. 7. Special teams coach John Bonamego worked with Abdul-Quddus when he was a rookie in 2011 and Mayhew said when Bonamego saw him on the waiver wire he stopped by him office to make a pitch for him.

“Good special teams player in New Orleans," Mayhew said. “We took a look at him, we liked what we saw, so we claimed him."

Abdul-Quddus (6-1, 205) started four games for the Saints but was mainly a core special teamer.

"It'd be great if he could play safety for us,” Mayhew said. “I want to find out. He played some safety and started some games down in New Orleans with the Saints.

“I spoke to coach (Joe) Lombardi about him and heard a lot of good things about him as a player. I liked what we saw on tape so he’s a guy who will come in and he’ll compete and we’ll see kind of where he ends up.”

QUOTABLE

“I read a lot of leadership books and I don’t see anything about the hats.”

Mayhew on the talk that Matthew Stafford isn’t professional or a good leader because he wears a backward hat.