The Detroit Lions have tendered five of their exclusive rights free agents.
The NFL has a three-tiered free agency system, depending on how many accrued years of service a player has in the league. An exclusive rights free agent is a player with two or less years in the league. When their contract expires, they are only allowed to negotiate with the team that originally signed them, unless the team releases their rights.
Here's a closer look at the exclusive rights free agents returning to the Lions for the offseason training program and what it means for the roster:
Long snapper Scott Daly
Daly went unnoticed pretty much all season long and when it comes to long snappers, that's a good thing. Daly has been solid since taking over for Don Muhlbach, so this one was a no-brainer for GM Brad Holmes and Co.
Defensive lineman Benito Jones
Jones was an effective rotation defensive tackle for the Lions last season playing in all 17 games with 16 tackles, 1.5 sacks, four quarterbacks hits with a couple passes defended. Holmes is expected to add to the interior defensive line group this offseason, and Jones will compete for a role there in 2023.
Linebacker Anthony Pittman
A core special teams player, Pittman also saw some brief action on defense as an on-the-ball rusher. He's a versatile player and a valuable asset for a head coach like Dan Campbell who values special teams.
Tight end Brock Wright
Wright was asked to play a much bigger role the second half of the season when the team traded T.J. Hockenson at the deadline. Wright finished with 18 receptions for 216 yards (12.0 avg) and four touchdowns, including the 51-yard game winner against the New York Jets late in the season that showed off his speed and athleticism. He's proven to be a reliable receiver and steady blocker in the run game.
View photos from the Detroit Lions' 7th Annual Tackle Reading event featuring Lions players, Legends, Cheerleaders and Cat in the Hat!
Tight end Shane Zylstra
Like Wright, Zylstra saw his playing time tick up the second half of the season and finished the year with four touchdowns, including three against Carolina Week 16. The Lions could certainly look to add to the tight end room this offseason either via free agency or a deep draft class at tight end, but bringing back Wright and Zylstra gives them some stability heading into 2023.