As we start to look ahead to training camp, we're going to take a position-by-position look at the Detroit Lions roster. Next up is the defensive tackle position. (The final year of each player's contract is listed in parentheses.)
The headliners at defensive tackle for the Lions are Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Suh is one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL, and he's entering his final season under contract with the Lions (his 2015 contract year will be voided after the Super Bowl). The Lions are hoping to sign him to a long-term deal, but it remains to be seen if that will happen. It also remains to be seen what will happen with Fairley, who has slimmed down quite a bit this offseason. The Lions declined to pick up the 2015 option in his contract, so Fairley is also set to become a free agent next offseason.
From a contract standpoint, it's more of the same for the Lions' returning backups at defensive tackle. C.J. Mosley, who is expected to remain third on the depth chart, has one season left on his contract, as does Andre Fluellen, who will be competing for the fourth spot. Jimmy Saddler-McQueen and Xavier Proctor, who spent last season on the practice squad, are under contract through 2015, but neither player is expected to make the team.
One defensive tackle who is under contract for the foreseeable future and is expected to actually make the team is Caraun Reid. The Lions drafted him in the fifth round this year, and the thinking is that he will beat out Fluellen for the fourth spot at defensive tackle. Then, in 2015, he could be poised for a bigger role depending on what happens with Suh, Fairley and Mosley.
The Lions also have Gregory Hickman under contract for the foreseeable future after adding him as an undrafted free agent this year. However, he's a long shot to make the team at this point.
Need going forward?
The Lions have more than enough depth and talent at defensive tackle, at least for 2014. It could be a completely different story in 2015 and beyond, but the Lions' only real need at this position right now is to sign Suh to an extension.