Wright was a restricted free agent coming into the new league year, but the Lions chose not to offer him a tender. This made Wright an unrestricted free agent once the new year began on March 9.
If you're thinking "why didn't the Lions just offer Wright a tendered contract to make sure they didn't lose him?" the answer is likely Detroit didn't want to be tied down to a contract amount regarding Wright. If they placed a first, second or "right of first refusal" tender on Wright, the Lions would be on the hook for $3.635 million, $2.553 million or $1.671 million respectively.
In other words, the Lions may have saved money if they signed Wright to a deal worth less than $1.7 million, which in all likelihood they did. Wright was not a huge contributor last season, after the Lions traded for him before the season began. Wright finished with just 77 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Detroit now has five tight ends under contract: Wright, Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew, Jordan Thompson and Casey Pierce.