A coach has been hired. A staff is being filled out. The Detroit Lions offseason and planning for the 2014 season is officially here.
To start that process, we will look at each position group over the next two weeks, analyze what worked and what didn’t before projecting what could happen between now and training camp in 2014, which is only a mere seven or so months away.
Today the series concludes with specialists.
Previous positions: Cornerbacks; Safeties
The good: Punter Sam Martin proved his worth as a fifth-round pick, handling both kickoffs and punts for Detroit. He averaged 41 yards per punt net and proved to be one of the top young punters in the league. Jeremy Ross was a great find on the free agent wire after Green Bay released him. He returned both a punt and a kick for a touchdown against Philadelphia and teams were kicking away from him by the rest of the season. Don Muhlbach had another good season as the team’s long snapper.
The bad: David Akers struggled through the year, converting only 19 of 24 field goals, for a 79.2 percent rate. As a free agent, it would be very, very surprising to see him back with the Lions in 2014. Martin did struggle at times with his punts, but overall was pretty good.
The money (using 2014 cap numbers from Roster Management System): Martin is scheduled to make $535,075 in 2014. The Lions still need a kicker and a long snapper -- although the team should bring Muhlbach back. Ross should end up returning, too, as an exclusive rights free agent.
Potential cuts: None. Martin isn’t going anywhere.
Draft priority: Not a ton. If the Lions really see a kicker they want, they could draft him in the later rounds, but they have brought in John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio to compete for the spot, along with potentially another signing during free agency.
Numbers in this post were culled from ESPN Stats & Information and Roster Management System.