- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every day we’ll take a look at one of the Detroit Lions heading for free agency, what he has meant to the team before and a prognosis on whether he’ll be back with the club in 2014.
Free agent to be: Shaun Hill
Years in the league: 12
What he made last season: $3,250,000 (cap number); $2,750,000 (cash value).
What he did last season: Hill served as Matthew Stafford’s primary backup last season and because Stafford stayed healthy, Hill barely played. He took two snaps at the end of Detroit’s blowout win over Green Bay, kneeling twice. He has played in 34 career games, completing 591 of 954 passes for 6,381 yards, 41 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. His most extensive action came in his first year in Detroit, when he played in 11 games due to injuries to Stafford.
His potential market value: Even though he played no snaps of significance last season, Hill is considered one of the top veteran backups in the league. After the season ended, he expressed an interest in returning to Detroit, but also made it sound as if he would weigh his options since he has little-to-no chance of being the starter in Detroit.
Will he fit the Lions still: Depends. With Detroit bringing in a new coaching staff, the Lions might want a backup more familiar with their scheme and style of play. For Jim Caldwell and Joe Lombardi, who that is could be a question mark. Curtis Painter, who played for Caldwell in Indianapolis, is a free agent this year after being Eli Manning’s backup with the Giants. Drew Brees’ backup in New Orleans, Luke McCown, is also a free agent. Of the two, McCown would be the better bet as a veteran backup than Painter. But if Hill is willing to sit behind Stafford and watch for what could be the last contract of his career, then he could be a good fit still. The other option could be if Detroit decides to go with a younger quarterback to back up Stafford and that could come through the latter stages of the draft.
What happens: A lot might depend on what Hill wants to do and the type of money he is willing to take or make. If Hill wants to compete for a starting job, he’ll likely end up somewhere other than the Lions, because that won’t happen. If he is comfortable in Detroit and is willing to work with the team’s somewhat limited cap space (for now), then it could be conceivable he returns as the backup.