Saturday, March 17, 2012
On the return of Jeff Backus and Shaun Hill
By Kevin Seifert
Below are a few award-winning thoughts on the Saturday evening return of left tackle Jeff Backus and backup quarterback Shaun Hill to the Detroit Lions.
- Both players signed two-year deals. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Backus' contract is worth $10 million. We don't yet know what Hill received.
- The Lions never gave an indication they planned to move on from Backus, who will turn 35 during the season and had surgery immediately after the season to repair a torn biceps muscle. They know they will have to replace him sooner than later, but long-term answers at left tackle rarely are available in free agency. They almost always come through the draft, and it's something to keep an eye on next month. The Lions now have the flexibility to draft a possible replacement without needing to insert him immediately into the lineup.
- Veteran Marcus McNeill visited earlier this week, and his situation is a perfect example of how left tackles who are available often are damaged goods in some way. McNeill is a two-time Pro Bowler but has had two neck surgeries and suffers from spinal stenosis. It would have been hard to count on him for more than a year-by-year basis.
- Backus had trouble with some of the NFC North's elite pass-rushers last season, but he is nothing if not reliable. His streak of consecutive games played is 176, and there is every reason to believe his biceps will heal in time for the 2012 regular season.
- Barring an unexpected offer to start for another team, it was difficult to imagine Hill leaving the Lions. He has a long history with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and quarterbacks coach Todd Downing and would have been starting over had he signed with the St. Louis Rams.
- The Lions chose Hill, 32, over Drew Stanton, 27, who departed Friday for what could be the No. 2 job with the New York Jets. Both players had some success during the 2010 season, but Hill was an acquisition of the Lions' current regime while Stanton was a draft choice dating back to the Matt Millen era. I would feel more comfortable with Hill, but there is also an undeniable comfort level between the sides.
- Barring any late Saturday evening news, I'll check in with you Sunday. Night-night.