Whenever a new collective bargaining agreement is in place and the 2011 league year officially opens, the expectation is for players with four years of service or more to be considered unrestricted free agents. That means for the Detroit Lions, they will have players like Chris Houston, Turk McBride and Drew Stanton hitting the open market barring something unforeseen that alters the proposed free agency rules.
The Lions made it clear which players they want to bring back by tendering contract offers to guys that were considered restricted free agents back before the lockout began. Stanton was one of the guys that received a tendered offer, indicating that the Lions want to bring him back to compete to be Matthew Stafford's backup.
Even if Stanton is an unrestricted free agent he could obviously return, but he will at least test the free agency waters before making any decisions.
"Given that opportunity, I'd be foolish not to see what's out there," said Stanton, who also could be a restricted free agent, depending upon the rules agreed to in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Stanton would be "comfortable" with returning to the Lions, according to ProFootballWeekly, but if he could find a situation where he might be able to compete for a starting job, I wouldn't blame him for leaving. As it stands with the Lions he will be competing only to be a backup, so if a team with a need at QB came calling, I could certainly see him landing somewhere other than Detroit following the lockout.