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Detroit Lions free agency preview: Offensive line

How will the Lions approach their offensive line in free agency?

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions’ offensive line has gone through some drastic changes over the past few years. General manager Bob Quinn has clearly made it a priority to beef up the offensive line, and we’ve seen glimpses of his vision pay off.

But the project is not quite yet done. The Lions face some tough decisions on their own roster this year, and it may mean they have to go fishing, once again, in free agency. Here’s our free agency preview of the Lions’ 2019 offensive line.

Currently under contract

Rick Wagner

  • $11.9M cap hit in 2019
  • Signed through 2021

Taylor Decker

  • $3.5M cap hit in 2019
  • Signed through 2019 (fifth-year option available)

T.J. Lang

  • $11.5M cap hit in 2019
  • Signed through 2019

Kenny Wiggins

  • $3.125M cap hit in 2019
  • Signed through 2019

Frank Ragnow

  • $2.7M cap hit in 2019
  • Signed through 2021 (fifth-year option available)

Joe Dahl

  • $781,481 cap hit in 2019
  • Signed through 2019

Tyrell Crosby

  • $641,920 cap hit in 2019
  • Signed through 2021

Graham Glasgow

  • $2.2M cap hit in 2019
  • Signed through 2019

Leo Koloamatangi

  • $570,000 cap hit in 2019
  • Signed through 2020

Pending free agents

Andrew Donnal

Level of need: 4/10

Detroit’s offensive line strategy in 2019 cannot even begin until the Lions decide what to do with T.J. Lang. His massive $11.5 million cap hit would be worth it if the team could rely on him to be healthy, but Lang has struggled to stay on the field over the past two seasons. It appears the team would like to keep him around, but they’ll almost certainly want him at a reduced rate.

Regardless of whether they keep him or dump him, Detroit will need to start thinking about a long-term plan. It doesn’t necessarily have to be this year, but Lang isn’t the team’s right guard of the future.

Depth-wise, the Lions actually look okay. Kenny Wiggins came in and eventually played sufficiently in Lang’s absence, and Detroit has a handful of youthful developmental options as well in Tyrell Crosby, Joe Dahl and Leo Koloamatangi.

Overall, the Lions either have to replace T.J. Lang this year, or kick that can down the road and add some additional depth. Because they haven’t parted ways with Lang yet this offseason, it seems like they may be planning on the latter option.

Top free agents available

Rodger Saffold - If Saffold actually hits free agency, he’ll undoubtedly be the belle of the ball in an otherwise underwhelming free agency pool. Saffold is 30 years old, but he’s coming off a fantastic year with the Rams, helping the team rush for the third-most yards in the NFL and an impressive 4.9 yards per carry. PFF graded him out as the eighth best guard in the league. He could lock down Detroit’s right guard position (though he played on the left side in LA) for the next 3-4 years, but it would cost them.

Ramon Foster - A 10-year veteran and starter of 131 career games, seeing Foster in anything but a Steelers jersey is going to be weird, but it looks like things are headed that way. Again, he’d have to shift over to right guard instead of left in Detroit, but he’s about as consistently good as you’ll find in free agency. Not a long-term fix, though, at age 33.

A.J. Cann - A younger choice for the Lions, the former 2015 third-round pick hasn’t quite caught on with the Jaguars. He’s been inconsistent, but has held onto his starting status for his four-year career. He’d probably be seeking starter money, so this would only really be an option if the Lions move on from Lang ASAP.

Best fit

John Miller - Miller is a nice mix of youth, potential and value. He’s had a rocky career thus far and likely wouldn’t be penciled in as a starter in Detroit. He’s started 47 games over four years after being taken by the Bills in the third round of the 2015 draft. Here’s what Buffalo Rumblings has to say about Miller.

Miller has a strange journey so far in his NFL career. He started 28 games over his first two NFL seasons, emerging from the 2015 NFL Draft to become the opening-day starter. Then he was relegated to the bench during his third season when Sean McDermott became the Bills head coach. Under offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, Miller’s skill set fell out of favor. After Dennison was fired, he was re-inserted into the starting lineup under coordinator Brian Daboll.

Buffalo Rumblings believes Miller could be signed to a two-year, $4.8 million contract, which would be a good figure for a 25-year-old guard with starting potential.

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