If the Detroit Lions are still seeking a starting-level interior offensive lineman in free agency, they’re quickly running out of options. Josh Sitton has signed with the Dolphins. Matt Slauson will be playing with the Colts in 2018. And the top free agent options like Andrew Norwell and Justin Pugh are long gone (and far too expensive anyways).
One of the more cost-effective options for the Lions is now off the table, too. Former Vikings offensive guard/center Joe Berger announced his retirement on Friday morning:
Longtime OL Joe Berger is retiring. His statement: pic.twitter.com/Jk4LW5K00S— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 23, 2018
According to Tom Pelissero, both the Lions and the Vikings gave Berger contract offers last week. The Vikings moved on by signing former sixth-round pick Tom Compton earlier in the week, while the Lions inked Kenny Wiggins to a two-year deal last Thursday.
However, Detroit still has a pretty significant need at guard or center. Wiggins did start all 16 games last year for the Chargers, but that was as an injury replacement to rookie Forrest Lamp, and Wiggins’ performance was not up to par. He’s a nice backup plan to have, and he’s coming cheap (two-years, $5 million), but the Lions still need to upgrade there.
There is one more realistic option out there in free agency: former third-round pick Marcus Martin. Martin reportedly had a visit with the Lions set up—though there has been no word if the visit ever actually happened. At 24, Martin is young enough to still have his best football ahead of him, but he has struggled thus far, and rode the bench with the 49ers for the entire 2017 season.
Even if the Lions decide to pass on Martin, their solution could be waiting in this year’s NFL Draft, which is supposed to be one of the strongest interior offensive line draft classes in many years.