Jeff Backus, the franchise tag of 2006 for the Detroit Lions, and the best offensive lineman on the team, was finally re-signed this week. After a long offseason of negotiations going absolutely nowhere, the two sides finally came to an agreement.
The specifics of the contract money-wise are a 1-year deal worth $6.983 million. The more important part of the contract however is the fine print. It states that Backus won't be the franchise tag in 2007, which really limits the options of a free agent.
It was a gamble of some sorts to guarantee that Backus won't have the franchise tag next year as he would probably be signed very quickly by another team if made a free agent. Rod Marinelli thought that by signing him now, he could get into the training program with the rest of his teammates and the option is still there to sign him to a longer deal before he would become a free agent. Backus, who attended the University of Michigan, had been in Ann Arbor working out all this time since without a contract you couldn't be with the team. Now, Backus can go back to Allen Park and workout at the Lions' practice facility. His presence will no doubt be very important to help out offensive line coach Larry Beightol.