clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Where the Lions roster stands: Defensive tackle

A breakdown of the Detroit Lions' defensive tackles and what needs they may have at the position.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

As a precursor to free agency and the NFL Draft, we are going to take a look at each position on the Detroit Lions roster. We continue the series with a look at the Lions' defensive tackles.

Under contract: Caraun Reid (2017), Xavier Proctor (2016), Roy Philon (2016), Kerry Hyder (2016), Jermelle Cudjo (2015)

Free agents: Ndamukong Suh (UFA), Nick Fairley (UFA), C.J. Mosley (UFA), Andre Fluellen (UFA)

In all my years of doing this series, I've never seen a situation quite like this. The above categories almost seem like they should be reversed. Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, C.J. Mosley and Andre Fluellen are all set to become unrestricted free agents after serving as the Lions' top four defensive tackles. Yes, the entire two-deep is headed for free agency.

Everything here really revolves around Suh. If the Lions are able to sign him to a long-term deal, they can let out a sigh of relief and rebuild their depth around him. If they don't re-sign Suh, however, then the Lions will have their work cut out for them in keeping this position at the level it's been at in recent years, especially if Nick Fairley also signs elsewhere. Fairley probably won't be back if Suh is, but the Lions really can't afford to let both players depart.

Shifting to the under contract category, the only noteworthy player is Caraun Reid. A fifth-round pick out of Princeton last year, Reid didn't get a ton of playing time as a rookie, but he'd be the top defensive tackle on the depth chart if the season started today. Behind him is a random collection of defensive tackles on futures deals: Xavier Proctor, Roy Philon, Kerry Hyder and Jermelle Cudjo.

Need going forward?

Given who is currently under contract at this position, the Lions really have at least three defensive tackle spots that need to be filled. In a perfect world, the Lions would just re-sign Suh, Fairley and Mosley and keep this group together, but that seems highly unlikely. As a result, chances are the Lions will have to sign at least one starting-caliber defensive tackle and draft another. The hope would be that Suh is the one who is re-signed, but if not, the Lions will have to turn their attention to Fairley or another free agent. In addition, the Lions will have to keep an eye out for someone who can step in as their top backup at this position. Mosley has done a solid job in that role the last couple of years, but it's unclear if he will end up being re-signed.

Basically, the best way to sum up this position is to just say that there are a lot of moving parts and a lot of things up in the air. Once the Suh domino falls, the Lions will be able to figure out what other moves need to be made here, but there will be a lot of uncertainty until that happens.

Previously: Quarterback, running back, fullback, wide receiver, tight end, offensive tackle, offensive guard, center, defensive end

Subscribe to PODD

After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.