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Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Lions free agency primer: Offense

By Michael Rothstein

As free agency begins Tuesday and the Detroit Lions figure out exactly how to fill the holes they have from other players leaving or just poor performances, certain players will stand out.

And over the past four days, Detroit has also spent time in the beginnings of talks with free agents as they try to maximize what is out there for their dollars as the team has just around $11 million to spend on new players and rookies.

It may sound like a lot -- and it will be enough to get a couple of deals done -- but the total is still in the lower half of the NFL and will keep the Lions from being major movers in the market at least until the team is able to work out a new contract with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

If that happens.

As everyone settles in for the insanity that will be the free-agent shuffle, here’s a look at players the Lions could target on offense.

QUARTERBACK
Why: The Lions are set with their starter but need to find a viable backup to Matthew Stafford.

Three options:
RUNNING BACK:
Why not: The team seems pretty settled there and if Joique Bell signs a long-term contract, it would be surprising to see Detroit bring in a veteran with Reggie Bush, Bell and Montell Owens on the roster. The team tendered Bell with a second-round grade this morning, per ESPN Insider Adam Caplan.

One name to watch: Vonta Leach. He has familiarity with Caldwell and if the team wants a fullback, he could be the guy they look to if Owens can’t handle the role.

WIDE RECEIVER:
Why: The team needs a lot of them. Right now four are under contract who had any sort of significant playing time last season -- Calvin Johnson, Kris Durham, Jeremy Ross and Ryan Broyles. But Broyles is coming off an injury and neither Ross or Durham have shown to be big playmakers at receiver.

Five possible choices:
TIGHT END:
Why: The team needs to add to the position and while they may do it by re-signing Brandon Pettigrew, that isn’t a lock as he heads on the open market with multiple teams interested.

Three options:
OFFENSIVE LINE:
Why not: Detroit isn’t in the market for a starter, but could pick up a backup tackle or guard here along the way. Center won’t be an option. Considering the Lions are somewhat set and have likely plans to draft a center, the Lions likely wouldn’t make a move early on an offensive lineman.