Detroit Lions: Meet the free agents 2014

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.

To view the entire series, click this link.

Free agent to be: Louis Delmas

Position: Safety

Age: 26

Years in the league: 5

Delmas
What he made last season: $1,215,000 (cap value); $1,715,000 (cash value); $715,000 (base salary); $1,000,000 (signing bonus); $1,750,000 (playing time bonus).

What he did last season: After signing a deal with the Lions prior to last season following an injury-plagued 2011 and 2012 seasons, Delmas played in every game in 2013 and almost every snap. He had one of the more productive seasons of his career, making 64 tackles, sacking the quarterback twice and grabbing a career-high three interceptions. He also developed a good rapport with Glover Quin, his safety partner, and it helped him have a good start to the season. Delmas struggled toward the end of the year with his paths to the ball and his reads. He also missed some tackles.

His potential market value: Decent. Delmas would have a much higher value if not for his knees, which will be a concern for any team that does choose to sign him. He was limited to one practice a week because of his ailing knees and the condition doesn't appear to be one that will magically become better over time considering he plays football. But he was available for every game, which was a major factor in him becoming potentially a priority free agent for teams. There appears to at least be some interest in him since he has visited with clubs since being released by Detroit last month.

Will he fit the Lions still: Probably not. When general manager Martin Mayhew discussed Delmas at the combine, it didn't sound totally promising he would bring the veteran safety back. There is a never-say-never thought process to it if Delmas can't find what he wants in free agency, but there is a decent chance a team will take more of a chance on him than the Lions will. Detroit will almost certainly bring in a safety either through free agency or an early round of the draft in hopes they can take Delmas' place. The other option would be Don Carey, who signed a three-year extension in December, or Isa Abdul-Quddus, who signed a one-year deal with Detroit after being released by New Orleans. Both have played safety in games before.

What happens: Delmas might not get all he is looking for in the free-agent market -- if he did, he probably would have already joined a team instead of just heading to Pittsburgh and other places for workouts -- but someone will sign him. He is a quality player with an injury history, so teams are going to be wary of that, as mentioned above, but he could be an upgrade over many other players on teams or a team looking for a strong third safety. If he is still sitting around in mid-to-late April, he could end up back in Detroit, but the thought here is that he will likely end up somewhere else before that.
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 or not he’ll be back with the club in 2014.

To view the entire series to date, click this link.


Free agent to be: Nate Burleson

Position: Wide Receiver

Age: 32

Years in the league: 11

What he made last season: $4,031,641 (cap number); $2,000,000 (base salary and cash value)

What he did last season: Burleson was fairly productive when he played in 2013. He missed seven games due to his pizza-related broken forearm, the second straight season he missed a chunk of games due to a freak injury after breaking his leg in 2012. When he did play, he had 39 receptions for 461 yards and one touchdown. His most important stat, though, was his reception rate. He caught 73.6 percent of passes thrown to him, one of the best catch rates in the NFL. He was also one of Detroit’s emotional leaders and someone a lot of younger players turned to for guidance.

His potential market value: Medium to high. Coming off of two seasons of injury -- although both were of the freakish variety -- could drive his value down a little bit but he still can be a valuable possession receiver in the league. He told me a couple of days before he was released by Detroit that he was as energetic and healthy as he has ever been and wanted to start his offseason workout training earlier than normal to take advantage of it. A team looking for a cheap veteran receiver will probably try to sign Burleson, although the depth at the position both in free agency and the draft could be another reason for a dip in value.

Will he fit the Lions still: Apparently not. Considering Burleson was willing to restructure his contract to stay in Detroit and made it extremely well known he wanted to finish his career with the Lions, the team released him without making an effort to try and keep him at all. While there could be a very, very, very small chance he returns if the Lions don’t like what they see in free agency and Burleson doesn’t find another home, that seems like an unlikely proposition.

What happens: Burleson can sign at any time because he was a released veteran, but it doesn’t seem like there is a massive rush at this point. Dallas could be an option for Burleson, mostly because the Cowboys brought in Scott Linehan to be the team’s “passing game coordinator” after he was fired from Detroit as the team’s offensive coordinator. Look for a team that has a young receiving corps looking for an older leader to be teams that are interested in Burleson.
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 or not he’ll be back with the club in 2014.

To view the entire series to date, click this link.

Hillis
Harris
Free agent to be: Leroy Harris

Position: Offensive guard

Age: 29

Years in the league: 7

What he made last season: $937,500 (cap number); $1,050,000 (cash value); $800,000 (base salary); $225,000 (signing bonus); $25,000 (roster bonus).

What he did last season: Harris played in one game last season -- the season finale -- and was otherwise inactive for the majority of the season. He was brought in to be a reserve guard and possibly push -- or win -- the starting right guard spot that eventually went to rookie Larry Warford. The third-round pick from Kentucky played every snap last season and Dylan Gandy was his backup, so Harris really didn’t have a role on game day with the Lions.

His potential market value: Some team might have interest in him as a free agent past the first tier of players. He spent the first six years of his career with Tennessee and was a starter for the Titans in 2010 and 2011. So there could be some value there for him when he heads to free agency, but he won’t be someone who will be signed immediately.

Will he fit the Lions still: Not much. The team barely used him last season and released him earlier this month. Detroit feels confident with what it has as its starting guards -- Warford and Rob Sims -- and also have a reserve guard in Rodney Austin that they want to give a shot to. They might look into bringing in a cheap veteran as well, but it won’t be Harris.

What happens: Harris will be in an NFL camp next season, but it will be somewhere other than with the Lions. He is a recent free agent and a released veteran, so he can sign anywhere. Where that is will remain a question for a little while, probably through next week.
Every day we’ll take a look at one of the Detroit Lions heading for free agency, what he has meant to the team, and a prognosis on whether or not he’ll be back with the club in 2014.

To view the entire series to date, click this link.

Akers
Free agent to be: David Akers

Position: Kicker

Age: 39

Years in the league: 16

What he made last season: $620,000 (cap value); $1,005,000 (cash value); $940,000 (base salary); $65,000 (signing bonus)

What he did last season: Akers had a tough 2013 season. His job was in jeopardy at one point during the second half of the season when the Lions brought in kickers for two straight days of tryouts. Akers made 19 of 24 field goals this season and at 79.2 percent had one of the worst conversion rates in the NFL. He also missed an extra point. He has played in 204 games in his career, making 354 of 436 field goals in the regular season and 38 of 44 field goals in the playoffs.

His potential market value: It depends. Akers will turn 40 during the final month of the 2014 season and had accuracy issues the past two seasons. After being a consistent 80-plus percent kicker throughout most of his career, he was under 80 percent the past two seasons. If he wants it, he’ll likely get a shot in a camp, but it wouldn’t be for more than the veteran minimum at this point.

Will he fit the Lions still: No chance. Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said during the NFL combine that Akers won’t be brought back for the 2014 season, and he shouldn’t be. The team signed two kickers to reserve/futures contracts – John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio – and the team will likely go with either one of them or a rookie or younger free agent. They need a kicker with power, too. Akers had too many people clamoring for Jason Hanson, the longtime Lions player who retired prior to last season, to return.

What happens: It would be surprising if Akers kicked in the NFL this season, although that could end up being on his own volition, too. He was working on a book during last year and became an ordained minister. If he does play, though, it won’t be for Detroit.
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 or not he’ll be back with the club in 2014.

To view the entire series to date, click this link.

Free agent to be: John Wendling

Position: Safety

Age: 30

Years in the league: 7

What he made last season: $938,334 (cap number); $715,000 (base salary), $15,000 (roster bonus)

What he did last season: Wendling wasn’t needed at all defensively in 2013, playing one snap the entire season with the defense. But his real role is on special teams, where he made 14 tackles and was one of the team’s most used and effective special teamers. That was part of why he was brought over from Buffalo after the 2009 season and why he made an impact with the Lions over the past four seasons.

His potential market value: Could be decent, although not as a priority free agent by any means. He will be a player who will eventually be brought into a camp by a team that struggled on special teams coverage last season. The Washington Redskins, for example, was one of the worst teams in the league on both punt and kick coverage.

Will he fit the Lions still: No. It initially looked like Wendling could be a candidate to return to Detroit through free agency because of his role on special teams and familiarity with John Bonamego’s coverage systems. However, once the Lions claimed Isa Abdul-Quddus off waivers earlier this year and then kept him off the restricted free agent market by giving him a one-year deal that counts $695,000 against the cap, that likely took Wendling’s potential special teams spot. Bonamego was the person general manager Martin Mayhew said went into his office to campaign for Abdul-Quddus. At the NFL combine, Mayhew said Wendling would not be back with Detroit in 2014.

What happens: As mentioned above, Wendling will likely find a spot in a training camp because of his special teams prowess, not any potential he has as a safety. At 30 years old, Wendling is likely on his last few years in the NFL as player who specializes in special teams play, but he should still be productive enough for a team to take a look at him and give him a shot to make a roster.
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 or not he’ll be back with the club in 2014.

To see the complete series to date, click this link.

Free agent to be: Rashean Mathis

Position: Cornerback

Age: 33

Mathis
Years in the league: 11

What he made last season: $555,000 (cap value); $940,000 (cash value and base salary)

What he did last season: Mathis was signed midway through training camp in 2013, the first team he had played with since being drafted by Jacksonville in 2003. He left the Jaguars as the team’s career interceptions leader, but struggled with injuries during his last years in Florida. He bounced back from that with Detroit, playing in 15 games and making 47 tackles. He initially was a depth player used for mentoring some of Detroit’s younger cornerbacks, but he took over the starting job from Darius Slay in Week 3 and turned into the Lions’ top cornerback in 2013.

His potential market value: Pretty good. Mathis’ age will be a concern, but he proved last season he can still play at a fairly high level when he is healthy. He has said before he would like to play one or two more seasons if teams want him and his body will let him, so he should be able to find a home if the price makes sense. He is a smart, intelligent cornerback who is also a good influence in the locker room for younger players at the position and on the defense.

Will he fit the Lions still: At the right price, he should. It would be unlikely he would come back as a presumed starter – the team is hoping Slay can slide into that role. He was a strong mentor to last year’s second-round pick and a gaggle of other younger cornerbacks on the roster. Whether or not they develop could end up being the difference if there is a slot on the roster for Mathis. The Lions have a lot of young corners and an inconsistent veteran in Chris Houston at the position, so he could fit the team as long as he’s willing to come fairly cheap.

What happens: This, along with Willie Young, are the toughest ones to predict. While it would seem unlikely Mathis will be the first option Detroit targets in free agency – the team will probably want to get younger at the position if it were to dip into the free-agent market – he could be a viable one. If Mathis does not find a suitable suitor for his services, the team could end up bringing him back for another season. He fit in well in the Detroit locker room and Slay credits some of his development to Mathis’ help, so he would be a good player to have around. If it were me, I would try to bring him back for the veteran minimum, but that is not a guarantee at this point. Detroit’s win-now mentality could aid that as the Lions know what they will be receiving in Mathis.
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.

To read the entire series to date, click on this link.

Free agent to be: Julian Stanford (Exclusive rights)

Position: Linebacker

Age: 23

Years in the league: 2

What he made last season: $112,941 (cap value); $480,000 (cash value and base salary)

Stanford
What he did last season: Stanford signed with the Lions after Travis Lewis was suspended for the last four games of the 2013 season for using Adderall, a banned substance. He played no defensive snaps in those four games but made an impact on special teams with three tackles. He had played for Detroit Lions special teams coach John Bonamego in Jacksonville in 2012, where he was signed as an undrafted free agent. He made the team and had 17 defensive tackles and a fumble recovery as a rookie.

His potential market value: If he doesn't get a deal with Detroit, he'll likely end up in camp with another team. He's still young and a willing participant in special teams, where he hung in during his four games with the Lions.

Will he fit the Lions still: Yes. He was brought to Detroit in part because of his familiarity with what Bonamego likes to run. He did well in his short stint and now has 20 games of experience under Bonamego's system, so that should be a benefit for him if the team chooses to bring him back on the exclusive rights deal.

What happens: The prediction here is that he returns and gives Travis Lewis a run at being one of Detroit's special teams linebackers. He likely won't crack any sort of linebacker rotation with Detroit -- not with DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch in front of him -- but he could be a valuable player still. It would not be surprising if he returns and ends up making a real push to be considered for a roster spot.
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 or not he’ll be back with the club in 2014.

To see the entire series to date, click this link.

Free agent to be: Rocky McIntosh

McIntosh
Position: Linebacker

Age: 31

Years in the league: 8

What he made last season: $555,000 (cap value); $840,000 (cash value and base salary).

What he did last season: McIntosh had the least productive season of his career, but that also came because he saw far fewer snaps than any other time in the past five seasons. McIntosh had only 38 defensive snaps as the team’s fourth linebacker. He had six defensive tackles, but had a knack for making plays in goal-line or fourth-down situations. He was also a key special-teams piece, making nine special-teams tackles. Of those nine tackles, seven came in two games -- Week 3 against his former team, Washington, and Week 4 against Chicago.

His potential market value: Someone will end up signing him. McIntosh said during the season he hopes to continue playing and although he barely played for the Lions, there is likely another team out there that will give him a shot to at least get into camp and try to earn a spot on their roster. At the very least, he could be a good special-teams player for one of the NFL’s other 31 teams.

Will he fit the Lions still: No. General manager Martin Mayhew said Friday the team informed Rocky McIntosh he would not be returning to the team in 2014. Now sometimes situations change and there is always the possibility if McIntosh is out there and the team has needs later on, they'd revisit it. But right now, McIntosh’s time with Detroit has come to an end after one season with the club.

What happens: McIntosh plays somewhere in 2014, although it might be in a very limited role. He is still a smart, instinctual player who can be a good mentor on a team with a lot of young, talented linebackers. The value of McIntosh to teams would likely be more in a mentoring role than anything else, as both his snaps and production have decreased ever since 2010, when he played a career-high 888 snaps and made a career-high 110 tackles. But barring the unforeseen to many, including Mayhew, McIntosh won’t be with the Lions.
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 or not he’ll be back with the club in 2014.

To see the Meet the Free Agents series thus far, click this link.

Free agent to be: Andre Fluellen

Position: Defensive tackle

Age: 28

Years in the league: 6

What he made last season: $457,059 (cap value); $588,824 (cash value); $715,000 (base salary).

What he did last season: Fluellen played a reserve role after joining the Lions following the season-ending injury to Jason Jones. In 13 games, Fluellen made three tackles. He averaged 12.1 snaps a game in relief of starting tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.

His potential market value: Little. He’s a good locker room guy and someone who can be a player that can be brought in at the veteran minimum to whatever team, but he likely won’t be getting more than that from any of the NFL teams.

Will he fit the Lions still: General manager Martin Mayhew didn’t rule out a potential return for Fluellen, but the market for him is not high and the team can wait to see what other options are out there that might be more effective than Fluellen has been in his career, where he has 55 tackles in 69 games and 2.5 career sacks -- although none since 2010.

What happens: Fluellen won’t be a high priority free agent for Detroit, but he would likely still be available for the team should they choose to bring him back after exploring other options. He has spent the majority of his career with the Lions and continually returns to the team after being released. As mentioned before, he is a good character guy who can provide a good influence to both Fairley and Suh in the locker room, along with the other younger defensive linemen the team has brought in over the past few years. If he does return, it likely won’t be until a bit later in free agency.
Every day we'll take a look at one of the Detroit Lions heading for free agency, what he has meant to the team and a prognosis on whether he'll be back with the club in 2014.

To see all the Meet the Free Agents to date, click this link.

To see the Meet the Free Agents series thus far, click this link.

Free agent to be: Israel Idonije

Position: Defensive end

Age: 33

Years in the league: 10

Idonije
What he made last season: $620,000 (cap value); $905,000 (cash value); $840,000 (base salary); $65,000 (signing bonus). $420,000 of it was guaranteed.

What he did last season: Not a ton. In his first year with Detroit after spending his entire career with Chicago, Idonije had 11 tackles and a half-sack -- his lowest tackle output of his career. His 313 snaps were his fewest since 2009. He mostly spelled Willie Young and Ziggy Ansah on the outside in situations in the middle of the field throughout the season. According to Pro Football Focus, he had 23 quarterback hurries, which isn't bad considering the amount of snaps he played.

His potential market value: Probably not much. Idonije is an older veteran whose production plummeted in his first season not in the Bears system. He is one of the older defensive end free agents on the market and if he is willing to take the minimum with a reduced cap number, then he could be helpful to a team needing a veteran presence. Otherwise, it could be tough finding Idonije a home in 2014.

Will he fit the Lions still: Probably not. The Lions have three defensive ends returning in Ziggy Ansah, Devin Taylor and Jason Jones. If the team chooses to bring back Willie Young, then they would have four defensive ends and would likely look for a drafted player or a younger free agent. Idonije's production just didn't match what the team had likely hoped to get out of him. PFF graded him out with a high plus rating in only one game last season. Now if the team were to not re-sign Young and release Jones, then maybe they would bring Idonije back as a versatile veteran, but if Jones remains on the roster, his ability to play multiple spots on the line likely means Idonije won't have a place with the Lions.

What happens: Idonije might still get looks from teams looking for a veteran defensive end, especially since he was playing at a high level as late as 2012. The Lions, depending what happens in free agency and the draft, could be interested late in the process like they were a season ago, when Idonije was signed in June to a one-year deal. His character -- he was one of the most stand-up players on Detroit last season -- could also be difficult to replace and could be a reason he latches on somewhere in 2014.
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.

To see the series so far, click this link.

Free agent to be: Willie Young

Position: Defensive end

Young
Age: 28

Years in the league: 4

What he made last season: $1,500,000 (cap number); $1,200,000 (base salary); $300,000 (signing bonus)

What he did last season: The former seventh-round draft pick saw his first significant action of his career in 2013 – starting 15 games and playing 730 snaps. The snaps were more than his prior three seasons in Detroit combined. He became a good edge-rusher who used his length and speed effectively throughout the season. He had 47 tackles, three sacks and recovered two fumbles as part of a defensive front with Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Ziggy Ansah. He graded out as the team's fifth-best defender and the Lions' best defensive end, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF also credited him with 48 quarterback hurries, second on the Lions to Suh. The 48 credited hurries were third among 4-3 ends, just behind St. Louis’ Robert Quinn, according to PFF.

His potential market value: Decent to good. Young is a better-than-average player who still has room to grow as a pass-rusher and overall defensive end. While he’s been in the league for four years, he spent most of his time behind then-starter Cliff Avril, who is now with Seattle. For a 4-3 team, he could be a strong fit if it needs an edge-rusher.

Will he fit the Lions still: Kind of. From a skill-set perspective, Young would remain a good fit for the Lions. He now has familiarity with the rest of the defensive line and is able to play off them better in his potential second season as a starter. His length/speed combination could be tough to replicate and he was fairly productive. The essential questions with whether he fits with Detroit anymore fall to three things. First, if the team still believes heavily in Jason Jones, there might not be a spot for Young to start. And at this point in his career, he is good enough to be a starter in the league. Second, if the Lions think Devin Taylor progressed enough in his rookie season – he was good in shorter spurts, but didn’t keep up that production in games he played a starter’s level of snaps – then they could have him slated as a starter. Third will come down to money and whether the Lions can offer him the best deal.

What happens: This is one of the two most interesting free-agent decisions Detroit has left. Like Brandon Pettigrew, Young should command some sort of salary in the open market and is very likely to test his options there first – especially if it is an unknown whether he will definitely be a starter. At the end of the season, Young said he was going to let his agent handle all interest from teams, so there could be an idea of what could happen with Young following this week’s NFL combine. That was the indication both he was given and seemed to anticipate almost two months ago when the season ended. At this point, I think Young ends up somewhere else next season, but pay attention to if the Lions makes a move with Jones. That could be an indicator of what could happen with Young. If Young leaves, the team will probably need another defensive end, either through the draft or free agency.
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 or not he’ll be back with the club in 2014.

To see all of the free agents profiled so far, click this link.

Free agent to be: Jason Fox

Position: Offensive tackle

Age: 25

Fox
Years in the league: 4

What he made last season: $1,323,000 (cap number and base salary)

What he did last season: Fox won the starting right tackle job out of training camp, beating out both veteran Corey Hilliard and undrafted rookie free agent LaAdrian Waddle. After injury-plagued seasons, Fox finally looked like he was turning into the player he appeared to be out of Miami (Fla.). Then injuries returned -- first his groin followed by his knee -- and by the end of the season he was firmly behind Waddle on the depth chart and possibly behind Hilliard as well. He ended up playing in eight games in 2013 and 13 in his four years with Detroit.

His potential market value: Not great. Fox has never been able to put together enough games together to show what he could be capable of when healthy, and that will be a concern to a lot of teams. He is still a young player and if healthy could be valuable -- after all, he did beat out two other players for the job on what ended up being one of the NFL’s top offensive lines -- but that would take a degree of optimism from a team.

Will he fit the Lions still: Probably not. With Waddle projecting as the right tackle of the future after being inserted into the lineup midway through the season and performing well next to rookie right guard Larry Warford, Fox wouldn’t be a starter. Hilliard is still on the roster as well, although at a $1.9 million cap number could have cause for concern about his status with the team entering the final year of his contract. Couldn’t see the team offering him much more than the veteran’s minimum, if anything at all, and he would have to be comfortable with essentially not having a chance to play barring injury.

What happens: Fox probably heads somewhere else if he can find someone to take a shot on him. He has the talent and if he does become healthy could be an asset, but that is not a risk the Lions should take as anything more than a fourth offensive tackle at this point. That Hilliard has familiarity with Jim Caldwell from the time they spent together in Indianapolis could also help the veteran stick around. General manager Martin Mayhew was high on Fox a year ago, saying he had starter-level talent, but that was before two more injuries and the signing and then emergence of Waddle.
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 or not he’ll be back with the club in 2014.

To see the Meet the Free Agents series thus far, click this link.

Free agent to be: Dylan Gandy

Position: Guard/center

Age: 31

Years in the league: 9

What he made last season: $620,000 (cap value); $905,000 (cash value) -- $840,000 (base), $50,000 (roster bonus); $15,000 (workout bonus)

What he did last season: Gandy played in 15 games, mostly as a special-teams player and, due to injuries, as a receiving-eligible sixth offensive lineman. Gandy played 15 offensive snaps last season but primarily served as a backup to center Dominic Raiola and guards Rob Sims and Larry Warford. They missed a combined two snaps all year.

His potential market value: Tough to say. He hasn’t been a consistent starter since the 2009 season, his first with the Lions. It is important to at least have some veteran backups and that he can play multiple positions helps, but it will depend on the needs of various teams on the offensive line. He’ll likely be in a situation where he will be taking the veteran minimum or slightly more.

Will he fit the Lions still: Not particularly. The team has the interior of their offensive line set with Raiola, Sims and Warford all set to come back for 2014, as well as Rodney Austin under contract. The team is also expected to draft a center in May. If the team releases Leroy Harris, who is supposed to count $2,062,500 against the cap next season and didn’t play a game in 2013, perhaps the team could bring back Gandy with part of that cap room.

What happens: Detroit will have other priorities ahead of looking at Gandy, so if he is able to find another offer from a team, he would probably be wise to take it. Unless the Lions are planning on filling every “major” hole through the draft -- receiver, cornerback, safety and potentially tight end and linebacker -- Gandy will not be the first priority and as a veteran could be expensive for Detroit to retain. If he is still around after the initial wave of free-agent signings, then the team could bring him back. But if Harris remains on the roster, don’t expect it. It might be an either/or situation there. He does have some familiarity with new head coach Jim Caldwell from their time together in Indianapolis, so that could be a help as well.
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 or not he’ll be back with the club in 2014.

Here's a look at the Meet the Free Agents to date.

Free agent to be: Matt Veldman (Exclusive rights)

Veldman
Position: Tight end

Age: 25

Years in the league: 2

What he made last season: $23,824 (cap number); $405,000 (base salary)

What he did last season: Not much. Veldman was signed to the practice squad in the middle of December and was promoted to the active roster for the final game of the season. He played in that game, but did not catch a pass for the Lions. He played one snap on special teams.

His potential market value: Not much. He was released by the Lions after the preseason and then he latched on with Tampa Bay on its practice squad before returning to Detroit on its practice squad. Right now, he’s a back-of-the-roster player who likely will end up as a camp cut or a practice squad player again.

Will he fit the Lions still: Sure, as a camp player. He won’t be a replacement for Brandon Pettigrew if the Lions don’t bring him back and they have more investment in Joseph Fauria and Michael Williams. He’ll probably be brought back as an exclusive rights player to compete in camp, but could face long strides to make the roster. His height -- 6-foot-7 -- makes him an intriguing player, though.

What happens: As mentioned above, he is an exclusive rights free agent, so it won’t cost much for Detroit to bring him back and let him compete during minicamps and OTAs. He should make it to training camp as well, but barring a massive jump in his play, it is tough to see him owning a roster spot. He could be a candidate for a practice squad place if the Lions decided to go that route.
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 or not he’ll be back with the club in 2014.

To see the whole Meet the Free Agents series, click this link.

Free agent to be: Dorin Dickerson (Restricted)

Dickerson
Position: Tight end

Age: 25

Years in the league: 3

What he made last season: $181,941 (cap number from second signing); $555,000 (base salary)

What he did last season: Dickerson had two stints with Detroit in 2013 -- his third team in three seasons in the NFL. Used mostly as a third tight end until Brandon Pettigrew’s injury in Week 15 against Baltimore, Dickerson played in five games, making two catches for 34 yards on five targets. He also played with a concussion during part of the home finale against the New York Giants, a game the Lions lost in overtime, 23-20. He dropped a pass and missed a block during that overtime period.

His potential market value: He is a young tight end with some skills -- that was evident during his time in Detroit -- and likely put enough on film to at least get him into a camp this offseason, if not put him on a roster this fall. His size isn’t great, but he has the ability to both block and run routes -- he was a top-rated receiver coming out of high school -- so that could make him attractive to some teams, including the Lions.

Will he fit the Lions still: He might, but he isn’t going to be as a high a priority as some other free agents. Detroit will be able to tender him an offer if it so chooses -- it would be stunning if that offer were anything more than an original round tender -- but it is no guarantee Dickerson would make the roster in the fall. His skill sets could fit the dual-threat type of tight end Joe Lombardi wants, but unlike a guy like Pettigrew, there are going to be other options out there.

What happens: This could be a cap and numbers question. It would be surprising to see Detroit offer Dickerson an original round tender because that value, which will be well over $1 million, is well more than Dickerson should probably command as a potential No. 3 tight end who might not even make the roster. If anything, Detroit would be smart to let him walk into free agency and then pursue him at a rate closer to the league minimum with some incentives attached. That is if they are still interested in Dickerson at all. That decision could come based off of what happens with Pettigrew and the value the club has with both Joseph Fauria and Michael Williams.

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