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Five veterans in danger of not making the final 53-man roster

Free agency and the draft often put several veteran players at risk to lose their starting jobs or even their roster spot. We look at five players who should be sweating final cuts this fall.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

When rosters trim to 75 and ultimately 53, it's more than just undrafted free agents, late-round picks, and street free agents that hit the unemployment line. Often, teams lose veterans as well, either due to declining skills or lessened production in relation to contract amount. The Detroit Lions are no exception to this, although the past two coaching regimes have been fairly veteran biased by comparison to the rest of the league. The coaches provide a great deal of input into who stays and who goes, but this is the first year under new general manager Bob Quinn so it's impossible to know what biases he holds, if any. His free agency and draft approach has already told us he doesn't mess around providing competition, but will he follow through? Here are five free agents the Detroit Lions may cut when making the final roster.

Don Muhlbach

The Lion with the longest NFL tenure, Don Muhlbach has been around for more than a decade. He's been a good long snapper, even making a Pro Bowl in 2012, but it wasn't enough to prevent Bob Quinn from drafting a replacement in Jimmy Landes this April. "The Muhldozer" has been a fan favorite ever since that Pro Bowl, but the team has been working to groom a replacement several times as he has aged. They've failed each time, but now there is late-round draft capital (and thus late-round draft pick contract) in the mix.  Don is going to give a hell of a battle in training camp and preseason, but barring a surprise flop by the rookie out of Baylor, I expect 2015 was the final season for the veteran long snapper on the Lions.

Don Carey

A veteran who has been pegged on the bubble in pretty much all of his previous five years in Detroit, Don Carey went from being a special teamer to a run defending nickel who couldn't cover to a weak special teamer and back to a good one who was a disaster at safety. He's had an erratic showing every time he's come onto the field, though the Don Carey we get tends to be the one we see a majority of the season. If we get bad Don Carey in the 2016 preseason, I don't think he makes the final roster. Johnson Bademosi was signed in free agency and his special teams skills are known for being top notch. Even if his reserve DB talents aren't great, a consistent expectation from one of your backups may be enough to push the Grand Rapids native out of Detroit.

Travis Swanson

One of the least 'veteran' of this group, Travis Swanson was drafted in the third round back in 2014. He was basically red-shirted behind Dominic Raiola that year, though he managed to start five games at guard. He would go on to start 14 games at center in 2015 but was the team's worst lineman on a bad offensive line. An injury was at least partially to blame for his poor performance, and I have no doubts that explanation is true. What bothered me about 2015 is that once Coach LINO (Lombardi-In-Name-Only) was mercifully removed as offensive coordinator, the rest of the offensive line saw improvement. Swanson continued to play poorly despite efforts to minimize his impact.  With no ties to the current office, a replacement already drafted in Graham Glasgow and his fallback role of backup swing guard already populated by the superior Geoff Schwartz, Travis Swanson should make sure his bags are packed.

Stevan Ridley

Although he has yet to play in a Detroit Lions uniform, Stevan Ridley's days in New England/New York along with his slightly guaranteed contract have made him a favorite as a 'lock' to make the final roster. There are only a few problems with that assumptive roster designation. For one, even under Martin Mayhew those players with higher guaranteed amounts weren't locked into making the roster if they couldn't play, and Bob Quinn comes from an organization where that rarely played into any real team building strategy. Secondly, the Lions are in the black for 2016, meaning there is no more cap hell and no more robbing Peter to pay Paul, so those types of details aren't as relevant. Lastly, and most importantly, Ridley hasn't been very good for a long time. After a breakout season in 2012, Ridley saw himself firmly in Bill Belichick's doghouse after a series of fumbling issues. It was those issues -- and a brutal injury in 2014 -- that led to his release from the Patriots. He wasn't playing very well prior to his release, either, but once he returned from injury in 2015 with the New York Jets he clearly wasn't the same player we saw in 2012 or even 2013. Rushing for only 2.5 YPC in 2015, I wouldn't put a lot of faith that Ridley beats out George Winn in 2016, let alone Zach Zenner, battling for the fourth running back role. With no special teams skills to speak of and a barely passable receiving ability, Ridley has a very hard road to the final roster.

Caraun Reid

We already know Gabe Wright is in trouble after his extremely poor showing as a rookie and status of being a Mayhew gamble, but former fifth-round pick Caraun Reid isn't safe on this roster, either. We've been takinglook at some of the things Reid has done well in his time for the Lions, but his roster insecurity isn't only play based. The team made defensive tackle a focus of this offseason, re-signing Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker as well as picking up a free agent in Stefan Charles and a high draft pick in A'Shawn Robinson. Robinson seems like a good addition, while the addition of Charles has also drawn praise. That already puts the team four deep at the position, one the team has not always kept five players at. In each of the past three seasons, we have seen hype for Reid prior to the preseason. As a rookie, it was all about how his small school status was the only thing keeping him from being drafted higher, drawing Aaron Donald comparisons. In year two, it was how he had rocked up after working out in the offseason with Ndamukong Suh, with predictions he would be starting by preseason end. Now in year three it's a continuation of those subplots, but are the Lions buying it anymore? The top of the DT depth chart isn't very crowded, but the bottom certainly is and though another fan favorite due to his jovial personality, Caraun Reid could be a football decision this fall.