Looking at the Lions' roster: Offense


With everything the Detroit Lions are going to do over the next few months, all of it is with a very simple goal in mind: Put together the best possible roster to make a run at the playoffs in 2014, Jim Caldwell’s first season as Detroit’s head coach.

A week into free agency, here’s a breakdown of the Lions' offense and if they are better off than they were at the end of last season.


Who is back: Matthew Stafford; Kellen Moore

Who is gone: No one, definitively, but Shaun Hill is visiting St. Louis

Who has come in: No one.

Who is in limbo: Hill

Are the Lions better or worse: Right now, worse, but mostly because the team doesn’t have their backup quarterback situation settled yet. As long as Detroit signs a decent veteran – either Hill or Luke McCown or someone else with some experience – the Lions should come out at least equal here.


Who is back: Reggie Bush; Joique Bell; Mikel Leshoure; Theo Riddick; Montell Owens.

Who is gone: No one.

Who has come in: No one.

Who is in limbo: No one, although we’ll see on Leshoure’s future with Detroit.

Are the Lions better or worse: The same. Nothing has changed with this position group for now, although one could argue the team should be slightly better here since Bell could grow in his third year of significant playing time.


Who is back: Calvin Johnson; Kris Durham; Ryan Broyles; Kevin Ogletree; Jeremy Ross; Patrick Edwards; .

Who is gone: Nate Burleson; Micheal Spurlock

Who has come in: Golden Tate

Who is in limbo: None.

Are the Lions better or worse: Better, and should still improve. The receiver position is one of the areas the Lions are going to likely makeover the most from last season. Adding Tate, who has some of the best hands in the NFL, also offers a speed component Burleson no longer had. Tate also has no problem going up and making catches over defenders or in traffic, something that can only help him with Stafford. Durham could grow with more reps, as could Ross. While Detroit still needs upgrades at this position, it is better off than a year ago just by the addition of Tate.


Who is back: Brandon Pettigrew; Joseph Fauria; Michael Williams; Matt Veldman.

Who is gone: No one.

Who has come in: No one.

Who is in limbo: No one.

Are the Lions better or worse: Slightly worse, mostly because if Detroit does mimic the New Orleans offense, it doesn't have the stretch-the-field tight end like Jimmy Graham had been as one of the catalysts of the Saints' success. Fauria has the size and hands to be a stretch option, but might not have the upper-end speed he would need. Pettigrew would be interesting in that role, but he seems to work better as a short- and medium-route performer as well as a blocker. Depending how the draft falls, the Lions could end up using a pick here.


Who is back: Riley Reiff; LaAdrian Waddle; Corey Hilliard

Who is gone: None

Who has come in: No one

Who is in limbo: Jason Fox

Are the Lions better or worse: Better. The team will likely add a fourth tackle at some point, be it a cheap veteran or a rookie. But Reiff is entering his third season and Waddle his second season in the NFL, so they should make large improvements from a season ago, when they were part of one of the better offensive lines in the NFL. Fox would be a decent return, except for his inability to stay healthy.


Who is back: Rob Sims; Larry Warford; Rodney Austin

Who is gone: Dylan Gandy; Leroy Harris

Who has come in: No one.

Who is in limbo: No one.

Are the Lions better or worse: For now, about the same. Warford should make big improvements from his first season to his second and the team liked Austin enough that they put him on the 53-man roster instead of letting him go to Tennessee. But Detroit probably needs a fourth guard or someone who can backup both guard and center in the future or they could be thin at the position.


Who is back: Dominic Raiola

Who is gone: No one

Who has come in: Phil Costa visited, but signed with Indianapolis

Who is in limbo: No one.

Are the Lions better or worse: The same, if Raiola puts in the same amount of focus and effort into this offseason that he did last offseason. He had one of the best seasons of his career in 2013 and earned a one-year contract earlier this year. Detroit will start looking for his replacement, either through a younger veteran or a rookie in the draft.