2014 Detroit Lions free agency preview

Jennifer Hilderbrand-USA TODAY S

Here's a look ahead to NFL free agency from the Detroit Lions' perspective.

In order to get ready for the start of the 2014 league year, here is a Detroit Lions-oriented preview of NFL free agency:

When does free agency begin?

Free agency officially begins at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 11. This coincides with the start of the league year and the start of the trading period. The negotiating period actually began this past Saturday, but contracts can't officially be executed until Tuesday at 4 p.m.

How much cap room do the Lions have?

According to the Free Press, the Lions currently have just under $12 million in cap room. This is based on the Lions' top 51 cap numbers (a total of around $122.6 million) and a carryover of nearly $1.5 million from last year that was added on to the $133 million salary cap. (Note: Keep in mind that some of that cap space will have to be set aside for the Lions' 2014 rookie pool and their restricted and exclusive-rights free agents.)

Who are Detroit's free agents?

The Lions have 20 total free agents remaining: 13 unrestricted free agents, two restricted free agents and five exclusive-rights free agents. You can see the full list here.

Which free agents have already re-signed with the Lions?

In advance of the start of free agency, the Lions inked safety Don Carey to a three-year extension, and they also signed center Dominic Raiola and long snapper Don Muhlbach to one-year deals. All of those players were originally set to become unrestricted free agents. In addition, the Lions signed safety Isa Abdul-Quddus, who was going to become a restricted free agent, to a one-year deal.

Which free agents are expected to be re-signed?

The Lions intend to bring back running back Joique Bell, who is a restricted free agent. They also plan to bring back wide receiver Jeremy Ross, wide receiver Kris Durham, tight end Matt Veldman, linebacker Julian Stanford and cornerback Chris Greenwood, who are all exclusive-rights free agents. They were tendered contract offers last Friday, meaning all five will be re-signed by the Lions.

As for the Lions' unrestricted free agents, we know that they hope to re-sign tight end Brandon Pettigrew. It's likely that the Lions will try to re-sign some of their other UFAs as well (perhaps quarterback Shaun Hill and defensive end Willie Young, just to name a couple options), but it remains to be seen who will actually return.

Which free agents won't be back?

The Lions have already informed wide receiver Micheal Spurlock, offensive guard Dylan Gandy, defensive end Israel Idonije, linebacker Rocky McIntosh, safety John Wendling and kicker David Akers that they will not be back next season.

Who were the Lions' cap casualties this year?

The Lions cleared $11.5 million in cap room by releasing wide receiver Nate Burleson and safety Louis Delmas on the same day. They also later released center Leroy Harris to free up another $1.95 million in cap room.

What does Detroit's roster look like right now?

For a general overview, go here to look at the offense and go here to look at the defense and special teams. For a position-by-position breakdown, see the links below.

Anything else?

To keep up to date on all of the Lions' moves, bookmark our free agency tracker. You can also keep track of every update with our free agency section, and be sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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