Detroit Lions: Shaun Hill

The series continues with Nos. 50-41. Most of the numbers came from research on the Detroit Lions' website, record books, and ESPN Stats & Information.

The series continues with Nos. 50-41. Most of the numbers came from research on the Detroit Lions' website, record books, and ESPN Stats & Information.

50: Years that William Clay Ford Sr., who bought the Detroit Lions on Nov. 22, 1963 -- the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated -- had control of the franchise. Ford Sr. died on March 9, 2014 and control of the Lions was given to his wife, Martha, with his son, William Clay Ford Jr., also having a major role in the franchise. In Ford Sr.’s tenure as owner, the Lions only made the playoffs 10 times and had 14 winning seasons.

49:The longest field goal made against New England came from Jason Hanson on Dec. 3, 2006 -- the last time the Lions played in New England before this season, when the team travels to Foxborough, Massachusetts. The Lions lost that game, 28-21. In a common theme against the AFC East, the longest field goal made by the Lions against the New York Jets is also 49 yards by Hanson on Dec. 10, 1994.

48: Penalties by the Lions in 1972, the fewest the team had in franchise history. The Lions had 417 penalty yards in those 14 games, also a franchise low. The lack of penalties helped Detroit, as it went 8-5-1 that season, but failed to make the playoffs.

47: The longest playoff run by Barry Sanders, which was also one of the best runs he had in his career. Sanders scored a 47-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter during a 38-6 thrashing of Dallas in the 1991 divisional playoff game. Sanders’ run in the fourth quarter is considered one of the top plays in franchise history as he ran through the bulk of the Cowboys’ defense on the way to a touchdown that put the game away.

46: Pass attempts by Gus Frerotte in the Lions’ 1999 first-round playoff loss to Washington on Jan. 8, 2000. Detroit lost the game, 27-13, after being shut out for the first three quarters. Frerotte completed 21 of 46 passes for 251 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the game.

45: He didn’t do much for the Lions on the field, but the No. 45 pick in the 1952 draft to the Lions became a legend calling football games. The team selected Pat Summerall out of Arkansas with the selection (then a fourth-round pick). He played two games for Detroit his rookie year and then broke his arm. The next season he was traded just before the start of the regular season to the Chicago Cardinals.

44: Points scored by the Tennessee Titans in 2012 during a 44-41 overtime win against Detroit. This is on here because the Lions scored two touchdowns in the final 18 seconds of regulation to tie the game and send it into overtime. Detroit then lost the game after backup quarterback Shaun Hill was stuffed on a 4th-and-1 quarterback sneak on the Lions' first drive of overtime. Tennessee had made a 26-yard field goal on its first overtime possession and the Lions coach called the one-yard failed sneak a “miscommunication” when a field goal would have kept the game going.

43: Passes completed by Detroit on Sept. 23, 2012 at Tennessee, a franchise record. That game was bad for the Lions on multiple levels. Matthew Stafford left the game with a leg injury -- but ended up able to make the team’s next start. He completed 33 of 42 passes for 278 yards and a touchdown. Backup Shaun Hill came in and completed 10 of 13 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns, but the Lions lost to the Titans in overtime, 44-41. Hill threw his two touchdown passes -- one to Calvin Johnson and one to Titus Young -- in the final 18 seconds of regulation.

42: The age of kicker Jason Hanson when he retired after the 2012 season. He made 32 of 36 field goals that season -- the most points he had scored in his career. The 88.9 field goal percentage he posted that season was the fourth-highest in his 20-year career and third straight season over 80 percent field goals made at his retirement.

41: Number of passing touchdowns for Matthew Stafford during the 2011 regular season -- a franchise record. Stafford, who was 23 years old at the time, completed 63.5 percent of his passes that season for 5,038 yards and a touchdown percentage of 6.2 percent. More important for Detroit, his effort that season led the Lions to their only winning season this century.
The Lions, lying in wait for a new year ...

The most pressing need remaining for the Detroit Lions remains at quarterback, the position where the team is settled in with a starter but has no experienced depth whatsoever.

That experienced depth left last week, when Shaun Hill chose to sign with the St. Louis Rams instead of heading back to Detroit. This left the Lions with Kellen Moore, who has yet to play in a regular-season game, as the only other quarterback on the roster. So what might the Lions do there?

One option would be to draft a quarterback in the later rounds -- Aaron Murray, Stafford's replacement at Georgia, comes to mind -- and the other would be to still bring in a veteran. Or both. Really, as the Detroit Free Press mentioned Monday, all options are open.

Among those options, according to the Free Press, are Dan Orlovsky, the former Lions quarterback. This might bring back bad memories for Lions fans, as Orlovsky once ran out of the Lions' end zone for a safety -- helping to give Minnesota a two-point win over Detroit in 2008.

And now, a look at Lions news from around the Interwebs:
The St. Louis Rams found their replacement for Kellen Clemens on Wednesday, agreeing to a one-year deal with Shaun Hill to become the team's backup quarterback behind Sam Bradford.

While Hill doesn't have the same knowledge of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's offense that Clemens did, he brings plenty of experience and a solid record of production as a backup.

[+] EnlargeShaun Hill
AP Photo/Scott BoehmQB Shaun Hill has played in 34 NFL games since 2005, throwing for 6,381 yards and 41 touchdowns.
ESPN Rams reporter Nick Wagoner and Detroit Lions reporter Michael Rothstein discuss what Hill brings to the table in St. Louis.

Wagoner: The Rams actually began pursuing Hill in 2012 and were unable to get him signed when he opted to return to the Lions for a more lucrative, two-year deal. Although it might have flown beneath the radar, Hill had some success in Detroit. Did the Lions want him back and how much effort did they put into keeping him?

Rothstein: The Lions definitely had interest in retaining Hill, as the Lions consider him one of the top backups in the NFL. He also has a comfort with starter Matthew Stafford and has won games for the team in the past. But the one thing Detroit could not offer Hill is a chance to be any sort of starter, as the Lions hired head coach Jim Caldwell, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter simply to help develop Stafford into an elite starter. St. Louis is closer to Hill’s offseason home and gives him a chance to potentially start, so that might have been the reason for his move there.

Wagoner: Interesting that you point to the potential to start, though I suppose that could be as simple as waiting and wondering about Bradford's health. Given his track record, it's fair to wonder if health is going to be an issue for Bradford again in 2014 and Hill is a logical choice to play in his place, especially if it happens early in the season. For what it's worth, I believe the Rams still will look to add a quarterback in the draft, probably sometime in the middle rounds. That's been the plan all along and now Hill can help bring whoever that draft pick is along.

As for Hill, what are some of the things he does well and what are some of his weaknesses?

Rothstein: Let’s start with the negatives. Hill doesn’t have the strongest arm and he doesn’t have all that much mobility. But he is a smart quarterback and he won’t lose games for you off the bench, either. He is a good game manager and can make a lot of the short-to-intermediate throws. He hasn’t had to do much of that the past few years thanks to Stafford’s durability, so it would be interesting to see where his skills are now if he were placed in a regular-season game situation. Hill was also a good mentor to Stafford, and he could be the same for Bradford.

Wagoner: I'm glad you touched on that, Michael. A big part of what Hill will do in St. Louis is replace the leadership void left by Clemens. He might not have been a guy you'd want starting games, but Clemens' leadership for a young offense was really valuable. He was instrumental in helping Bradford and he was also really helpful for the team's young receivers and backs.

Although Bradford should be far enough along in his development where he is a leader, what type of locker room presence is Hill and how can he help a potential drafted rookie?

Rothstein: Going back to what I mentioned earlier, he proved a good mentor for Stafford and is extremely easy to get along with. He has a dry sense of humor but understands how to prepare as a starter and how to be a backup quarterback, so he has worked in either role. He can absolutely be a leader if need be and should be able to fill that void. It was a smart signing by the Rams and the Lions definitely would have liked to have him back in Detroit if the money and situation were right. Hill is a consummate pro and should be able to help in the development of any rookie.
This is perhaps the biggest loss for the Detroit Lions this free agency period and it has nothing to do with a starter.

Shaun Hill has decided to sign a one-year deal with St. Louis, meaning after four years with Detroit the team will have a new backup quarterback this year. If it wants a veteran, though, the team might have waited too long to get a viable one.

Luke McCown, the player who would have been the best fit had Hill gone elsewhere, re-signed Wednesday with New Orleans. Ryan Fitzpatrick is signed up in Houston. Jason Campbell went to Cincinnati. Kellen Clemens is unavailable, now in San Diego.

And while Detroit appears fine with drafting a quarterback as a backup and the team still has Kellen Moore on the roster, it would be somewhat surprising to see Jim Caldwell enter his first season as the Lions' coach without an experienced backup.

Especially since the lack of a competent backup quarterback helped get him fired in Indianapolis after the 2011 season.

So where could Detroit go from here? Let's look at some options.

Kellen Moore: He has yet to take an NFL snap but is already in the locker room and under contract. This could be the opportunity he needs to prove he is a capable NFL player, but so far there is little evidence to support that. If the team doesn't feel like he can be the No. 2 quarterback, it might be time to see him leave the roster altogether. This is their big question with him.

Matt Flynn: Of the quarterbacks left, he might be the most cost-efficient considering the experience. Flynn is a former starter and the Lions know him well from his time in Green Bay. He isn't as strong of an option as Hill or, say, a Brandon Weeden, but he has proven he can win games for teams if necessary and that's what Detroit is seeking.

Mark Sanchez: Likely too expensive and still in the hunt to be a starting quarterback somewhere, he would seem unlikely because he'll have less than zero chance to replace Matthew Stafford. It would appear Sanchez would want to be somewhere he could at least compete to be a starter.

Josh Freeman: He would be an intriguing option for Detroit because he has the talent to be a starter but needs a place to resurrect his career after fiascos in Tampa Bay and Minnesota in 2013. He could be a one-year stopgap option, especially if the Lions drafted a rookie to be a third quarterback and eventual developmental replacement.

Brady Quinn: He is a step below Flynn and Sanchez, but Quinn has a strong arm and has started 12 games in his career. His 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in his career are not good numbers, but considering the Lions are hoping to never have to use this player, he could be a good short-term option.

Kevin Kolb: He has started at least one game in four of the past five seasons between Philadelphia and Arizona. He has thrown 28 touchdowns and 25 interceptions in his career, which isn't bad for a backup. If he is willing to take a completely backup role, he could be a strong option.

A rookie: The Lions have draft picks and could use a mid-round selection on a quarterback now if they are committed to developing one. Considering Moore is under contract for one more year, they could use him as the immediate backup for a season while they bring along a rookie. Among the potential candidates there could be Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech); Zach Mettenberger (LSU) and Aaron Murray (Georgia). Tom Savage (Pittsburgh); Stephen Morris (Miami, Fla.) and Connor Shaw (South Carolina) would also be intriguing developmental options.
The NFL released its performance-based pay list Monday, where every team is to allocate $3.46 million amongst its players for things they have accomplished during the season.

Here is the full pdf.

When it came to Detroit, the Lions gave the most money to rookie right guard Larry Warford, who earned an extra $260,630.09 for his standout first season with the Lions.

His rookie linemate, LaAdrian Waddle, picked up an extra $181,182, behind only Warford, receiver Kris Durham ($220,174.55) and cornerback Rashean Mathis ($188,695). The common thread with all the players is that they were reliable starters for Detroit by the end of the season.

Most players received some sort of payout, and here are the bottom five: Quarterback Shaun Hill ($76.90); tight end Matt Veldman ($309.09); guard Leroy Harris ($400.28); fullback Montell Owens ($641.50); tackle Barry Richardson ($875.40).

Hill shouldn't go spending that money just yet, though. The players will receive this money on April 1, 2016.
As free agency begins to hit its third week, colleague Field Yates took a look at some of the best remaining free agents available Insider and where they could potentially fit.

The one Lions player that made the list is quarterback Shaun Hill, who likely joins Mark Sanchez as the best quarterback available now that Michael Vick has signed with the Jets and Matt Schaub has been traded from Houston to Oakland. And it is possible Hill is going to be in demand, as he met with the St. Louis Rams last week. He left without a deal, and he's been in discussions with the Lions to potentially return.

That he hasn't joined either club could mean he's searching for something else as well.

Yates has the best fit for Hill to be in Chicago with an alternative fit in St. Louis. Nothing about Detroit, which would then be hunting in the sparse veteran quarterback market if it can't land Hill. Among those options could be Luke McCown, who worked with Joe Lombardi in New Orleans last season.

He also has Detroit with a best fit for a safety among his best available list, but not who one might think.

He doesn't have James Ihedigbo, who appears to be the top target for the team, on his best available list. He does have the two other Detroit targets, Chris Clemons and Thomas DeCoud, on the list and says DeCoud would fit the Lions well.

"DeCoud would represent a quality option to replace Louis Delmas, now a Miami Dolphin, and give Detroit a physical presence in the back end," Yates wrote. "He's not an overly rangy safety, but he has good ball skills when he can get to the point of the catch."

It would seem like Detroit would still be waiting on Ihedigbo, as that familiarity factor of having played under Teryl Austin in the past might play a factor in the team being more interested in him than Clemons or DeCoud.

Free-agency review: Lions

March, 18, 2014
Mar 18
A week in, here's a quick review of the free-agency period for the Detroit Lions:

Most significant signing: Considering that Detroit has mostly signed depth or re-signed its own free agents, the obvious choice is receiver Golden Tate. The former Seattle Seahawk will complement Calvin Johnson and should take pressure and attention off of the Lions' top receiver. He can also spread the field, has elite hands and can block extremely well for a 5-foot-10 receiver. He plays taller than he is and should be a good addition to Detroit.

Most significant loss: Defensive end Willie Young was a productive player who often became overlooked because of the star power in the middle (Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley) and the emergence of Ziggy Ansah at the other end. But Young is a long, rangy end who was good against the run and showed improvement. That he went to one of Detroit's top rivals, Chicago, adds to the significance because the Lions will see him at least twice a year.

Biggest surprise: That the Lions didn't make a bigger play earlier in the safety market. Like receiver on offense, safety is Detroit's biggest need on defense after the release of Louis Delmas. The team looked like it was interested in Chris Clemons and had reportedly expressed interest in T.J. Ward, but so far the only safety the team has brought in is James Ihedigbo. While Ihedigbo could fill a need if he signs, Detroit could have tried to make a bigger play here considering the market and the need. Unless the Lions draft one.

What's next: Solving the backup quarterback issue. The Lions need to have a veteran behind Matthew Stafford, and Kellen Moore just is not going to be a viable option there right now. Detroit, be it through re-signing Shaun Hill or signing someone like Luke McCown or Ryan Fitzpatrick, has to have a player with some experience ready to come in if Stafford were to get hurt. Detroit has too many other pieces to let that be an actual issue.
DETROIT -- Tom Lewand wouldn't go into specifics and declined to chat about individual players Monday night, but he gave a hint that the Detroit Lions might not be done in free agency yet.

This despite not having a ton of cap room remaining to sign players and the rookie class, but that can always be worked around with contract restructures and a potential Ndamukong Suh contract extension.

[+] EnlargeTom Lewand
AP Photo/Rick OsentoskiTom Lewand and the Lions may still have a move to make in free agency.
Of course, Lewand indicated Monday that even if Suh did sign an extension, it wouldn't free up as much cap room as one might think and that the entire salary cap process is more complicated than looking at one year, but rather a multi-year plan.

That said, don't expect Detroit to be finished finding players.

“I wouldn't say that,” Lewand said following an appearance at the MGM Grand in Detroit. “We're always looking at ways to improve the team.”

He wouldn't project anything, but Detroit still needs to sign a safety -- they brought James Ihedigbo in for a visit last week -- and a veteran backup quarterback, so some moves will still make sense.

Lewand said the team's backup last season, Shaun Hill, is in St. Louis visiting the Rams, but that he has kept lines of communication open with Hill and his representatives for a potential return to the Lions.

Hill has been with the Lions for four seasons, primarily as the backup to Matthew Stafford, who the team drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in 2009.

“Having a good backup is hopefully never necessary,” Lewand said. “But it is a good insurance policy.”

The Lions have signed five free agents since the start of the new league year Tuesday afternoon: Receivers Kevin Ogletree and Golden Tate, defensive linemen Darryl Tapp and Vaughn Martin and tight end Brandon Pettigrew.

The team also kept running back Joique Bell on the roster for the next three seasons with an extension on Tuesday, right before the start of the new league year.

“Joique is a great guy,” Lewand said. “Great running back. Great story for the city.”

Lewand said part of the reason Detroit has been able to attract higher-profile free agents -- Tate this offseason and Reggie Bush last season -- is because of the dynamic of playing with Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Suh along with being able to create cap-friendly, non-top dollar deals with players.

That, he said, didn't exist as much a few seasons ago. Of course, the Lions were also one of the worst teams in the NFL a few seasons ago.

That is no longer an issue, as the Lions have now become a franchise that is at least able to be competitive, although has still not won their division since the NFL shifted to their current makeup.
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.
The first week is over and the Detroit Lions, though not as active as some other teams in free agency, did make enough moves to improve the roster.

The big signing was receiver Golden Tate, who will provide a strong complement to Calvin Johnson and give Matthew Stafford a fast, athletic target with two of the best hands in the NFL.

The Lions also brought back tight end Brandon Pettigrew -- a move that makes sense in the short term and allows the team to have a veteran among a group of inexperienced players.

The team also brought in three depth players -- receiver Kevin Ogletree and defensive linemen Darryl Tapp and Vaughn Martin -- and began exploring options at safety to replace Louis Delmas.

Now entering the second week of free agency, most of the top targets are off the board. The Lions have between $2 million and $3 million to work with as of Monday morning. Of course, that could change if Detroit restructures some contracts.

Here’s a quick look at what the Lions could be looking at in the second week of the new league year.

Safety: The Lions had James Ihedigbo in for a visit and there appears to be mutual interest in getting a deal done. The main issues, for now, appear to be the upcoming birth of Ihedigbo's child and who is representing the free-agent safety, according to the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. Once that gets settled, this is probably the way the Lions go at the position.

If things fall through, there are a lot of options still out there. Chris Clemons has yet to find a team or even take a reported visit. Steve Gregory, Mike Adams and Reed Doughty would be on the next tier if Ihedigbo doesn't work out and Clemons comes off the market.

Backup quarterback: Movement at this position could come soon. Shaun Hill, Detroit's backup the past four seasons, is expected to be in St. Louis for a visit on Monday and what happens there could dictate what the Lions do next. As of Thursday, Hill was still an option for the Lions.

If Hill goes to the Rams -- or elsewhere -- Luke McCown would seem like the logical choice. Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, Rex Grossman, Dan Orlovsky, Brady Quinn and former Lion-beater Matt Flynn are among the names also still on the market.

Depth elsewhere: This might also be the time where the Lions can wrap up some players on veteran minimum deals if they feel the need to add a veteran presence at certain positions. Rashean Mathis is still out there at cornerback, as are Champ Bailey, Drayton Florence and Josh Wilson.

The Lions at least investigated a backup center with Phil Costa, who signed with Indianapolis. So this could be an area they look at a younger veteran if they feel there is someone who is the right fit.

Jared Allen is still out there as an impact defensive player -- but he is likely going to cost too much for the Lions to realistically consider at this point. The team could also look to add a veteran wide receiver on the cheap, but again, it could come down to fit.

The likelihood is that Detroit is done signing impact free agents other than at safety.
The Lions, lying in wait for this new year ...

After a week of free agency, one of the areas the Detroit Lions still need to fill is who, exactly, will back up starting quarterback Matthew Stafford.

For the past four seasons, that job has gone to veteran Shaun Hill, who played in 15 games over his four seasons in Detroit throwing 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. And now, Hill is a free agent and at age 34, is likely reaching the point where he needs to figure out where he wants to finish his career.

After the season and even last week, it looked like that destination could still be Detroit. But on Sunday night, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Hill is headed to visit the St. Louis Rams on Monday.

While a visit is not a deal, by getting a player in a facility, it increases their chances for committing to a deal. And the Rams need a backup quarterback after Kellen Clemens left for San Diego.

Hill is from Kansas and started his college career at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. And Missouri is closer to Detroit than Kansas, if that matters to Hill. So this could be something worth watching Monday as free agency enters its second week.

If Hill were to head elsewhere, 32-year-old Luke McCown could be looked at to be his replacement. McCown has familiarity with offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi's offensive scheme.

And now a look at other Lions news from around the Interwebs.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- It has been a long, long week for the Detroit Lions since the last Mailbag.

The Lions' owner, William Clay Ford Sr., died Sunday at age 88. Then there was free agency, where the Lions kept Joique Bell, Brandon Pettigrew and Kevin Ogletree, along with bringing in wide receiver Golden Tate and a pair of rotational defensive ends.

So the team has been a bit busy with some more moves, and then the draft should be just as lively.

Let's get right to your questions. Remember, the Mailbag is only as good as the questions you ask. Either tweet #LionsMailbag with any questions you have or email


Kris asks over email: Jason Jones was signed by Jim Schwartz as a DE, but do you see Jim Caldwell moving him to back to DT with Mosley as the Relief for Suh and Fairley?

Kris, that's an interesting proposition, and if the Lions had been able to re-sign Willie Young, that might have happened. But without Young and Ziggy Ansah and Devin Taylor -- the best two defensive ends on the roster at present -- moving Jones inside would make little sense with Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and C.J. Mosley able to be a three-man rotation now. The Lions also brought in Corvey Irvin from Detroit and have two practice squad guys from last season -- Xavier Proctor and Jimmy Saddler-McQueen -- that could end up as the fourth option.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. – The options are starting to dwindle.

Detroit took care of its wide receiver issue – at least in part – by signing Golden Tate. It handled a defensive line hole – kind of – by signing two players, but also had a big hole open when Willie Young went to Chicago.

And the Lions made progress on their gap at safety on Thursday, although no deal was completed. Meanwhile, the Tate deal also showed the Lions need to find some more room under the cap, so contract restructures and other moves might be coming as well.

Oh, and Detroit still could end up signing some players, too. This is Free Agency – Day 4.

What’s changed: Not much yet. A source said Shaun Hill is still on the table to Detroit, but that both sides were also looking at other options before talking again soon.

Who is out there: Shaun Hill; Luke McCown.

Chances something happens Friday: Not likely, but there could be a move if both Hill and the Lions agree that it is the best fit still at this point.

What’s changed: Henry Hynoski is off the board, re-signing with the Giants, so the Lions' search for a fullback continues. It might end shortly if the team feels comfortable enough with Montell Owens. He is due $100,000 on the fifth day of the league year if he is still on the roster.
Who is out there: Vonta Leach, Jed Collins.

Chances something happens Friday: If Detroit thinks there are better options they can secure, they could let go of Owens, but if not, they’ll keep him on the roster and could end the search for a true fullback.

What’s changed: Not much from the Golden Tate signing. His cap number in 2014 will be $3.1 million and the Lions currently have over $20 million in cap room invested in the position. This seems like a wait-a-while-and-see position now.

Who is out there: Lance Moore; Jason Avant.

Chances something happens Friday: Don’t see anything happening here Friday.

What’s changed: Brandon Pettigrew signed a four-year deal Friday morning worth $16 million, according to the Detroit Free Press. This should solve their need at tight end.

Who is out there: Brandon Pettigrew

Chances something happens Friday: Definite. He is expected to be in Detroit on Friday.

What’s changed: Phil Costa is off the board, headed to Indianapolis.

Who is out there: None.

Chances something happens Friday: Highly, highly unlikely. At least for anyone of note.

What’s changed: The Lions signed two depth defensive linemen Thursday, Darryl Tapp and Vaughn Martin. Also, Willie Young is headed to Detroit’s rival, Chicago, so he is no longer a candidate to return to the Lions. That said, Young being off the board means there is a need with Detroit.

Who is out there: No one of note right now. Could Jared Allen or Julius Peppers end up being a possibility? If they are willing to come cheap, maybe.

Chances something happens Friday: If it is a veteran Detroit knows, perhaps. But not likely at all considering both Peppers and Allen were out there when the team signed Tapp and Martin.

What’s changed: LaMarr Woodley is headed to Oakland, so that homecoming is not going to happen.

Who is out there: Right now, no one.

Chances something happens Friday: Still not a massive need at the outset.

What’s changed: Not much from a day ago. The same guys are still out there and none of them have even really seemed to move the marker with other teams.

Who is out there: This is what I wrote Thursday and it still applies: Rashean Mathis is still out there. With Denver signing Aqib Talib, it would seem like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie wouldn’t be returning to the Broncos. He played for Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin in Arizona. Charles Tillman is out there, too. After the Tate signing, though, Rodgers-Cromartie and Tillman might be out of Detroit’s price range.

Chances something happens Friday: Not likely.

What’s changed: James Ihedigbo seemed close to signing a deal Thursday, but left the Lions facility without a definitive job in hand. He told reporters that he hopes to sign with the Lions and that an issue with his representation is part of the holdup.

Who is out there: Chris Clemons is still out there, but the Lions seem focused on Ihedigbo.

Chances something happens Friday: Highly possible if he can get things sorted in a timely manner.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Shaun Hill is apparently still an option to return to the Detroit Lions.

A source told on Thursday that Tampa Bay had expressed interest in the Lions' backup quarterback, but the Buccaneers ended up going with Josh McCown instead as someone to compete with and potentially back up Mike Glennon.

The source said the Lions are still a potential landing spot for Hill, who has spent the past four seasons backing up Matthew Stafford. Other teams have reached out to Hill, and the Lions have also been looking around, the source said, but the sides are expected to touch base again soon.

Hill has played in 15 games for the Lions since signing in 2010, completing 269 of 432 passes for 2,891 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

In his career, he has completed 591 of 954 passes for 6,381 yards, 41 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.

Finding a backup quarterback to Stafford is one of the areas Detroit needs to fill during the offseason. Other than Stafford, the only quarterback on the roster is Kellen Moore, who has yet to play in a game.
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.

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

Three options:
  • Shaun Hill: He has been Stafford’s backup the past four seasons and has indicated a desire to return if everything made sense. If he wants a chance to start, he’ll leave. If he’s content wearing a baseball cap the rest of his career, the team might be able to keep him.
  • Luke McCown: He has familiarity with Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi from his time in New Orleans last season, and he understands the offense. He hasn’t played much the past two seasons and has thrown nine touchdowns and 14 interceptions in his career.
  • Curtis Painter: It would seem unlikely new coach Jim Caldwell would feel comfortable having Painter as his backup considering what happened during the 2011 season when Peyton Manning was injured, but there is a familiarity there and Painter does have more experience now.
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.

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:
  • Lance Moore: The former Saints wide receiver could fit what Detroit is looking for in the slot, and like McCown, would bring a level of familiarity to the offense immediately. Though his height (5-foot-9) doesn’t fit the prototypical Caldwell receiver as he likes his guys over 6 feet.
  • Jacoby Jones: The familiarity route pops up again. Jones played for Caldwell in Baltimore, has the size Caldwell likes and didn’t drop a pass last season. That’s big considering the Lions' woes there.
  • James Jones: The Lions know him well from his time in Green Bay. He caught 59 passes last season and had only three drops.
  • Golden Tate: The Seahawks wide receiver might be a little bit out of Detroit’s price range, but his versatility -- he can play in the slot, on the outside and be a returner -- makes him an attractive candidate for teams, including Detroit.
  • Brandon LaFell: He is somewhat underrated in the shadow of his potential former teammate, Steve Smith, but LaFell is a tall receiver (6-foot-2) who is young and has been able to produce. His drop rate -- 6 percent -- was a little concerning last season but likely more of an aberration considering his 2011 and 2012 seasons.
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:
  • Pettigrew: The Lions have said he is a priority free agent and the team will remain in the market to sign him. But there might come a point where too many teams are interested and his price becomes too high for a tight end that is versatile but can’t stretch defenses over the middle.
  • Ed Dickson: The former Ravens tight end has that familiarity with Caldwell and although he hasn’t put up big numbers the past two seasons, he did catch 54 passes in 2011. He has the blocking/receiving combination Pettigrew did as well.
  • Dustin Keller/Jermichael Finley: Both players are coming off massive injuries and could be had inexpensively, although the concern about the health of both players and how much they can really contribute could lead to a bargain deal at some point. If the Lions went with either one, they could end up looking to the draft for a tight end as well.
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.