Under contract: Larry Warford (2016), Rodney Austin (2015)
Free agents: Rob Sims (UFA), Garrett Reynolds (UFA)
The Lions may be on the verge of transitioning to a new starter at yet another spot on the offensive line. Specifically, it looks like left guard Rob Sims' time in Detroit may have come to an end. He's set to become a free agent this offseason, and it's unclear if the Lions will re-sign him.
On the right side of the O-line, the situation is much different with Larry Warford heading into his third season in the NFL. He had some injury issues last year, but he's still viewed as the most talented offensive lineman on the roster, and he is locked into the starting spot at right guard.
Behind Warford is Rodney Austin. By now, I suppose the hope was that Austin might be ready to step into contention for a starting spot at offensive guard, but he seems better suited for a backup role. Since he's the only guard other than Warford currently under contract, Austin is the top backup for the time being, but I suppose that could change if the Lions bring back veteran Garrett Reynolds, who served as a backup at multiple positions last year.
Need going forward?
The Lions need to address the left guard position, and I see two ways to go about this. The first scenario is for the Lions to draft a guard, bring back Sims for one more year and spend 2015 grooming his eventual replacement. In other words, this would basically be a replica of what the Lions did at center last year with Dominic Raiola and Travis Swanson. The other option is for the Lions to simply move on from Sims and bring in someone to immediately replace him either via free agency or the draft. Think of this as what the Lions did in 2013 when they drafted Warford and he started as a rookie.
In addition to needing to figure out the starting situation at left guard, the Lions could use a boost in the depth department. Austin may have some upside, but he is completely unproven, so it would be wise to bring back Reynolds or sign another veteran who can back up multiple positions on the O-line.