The Detroit Lions announced on Wednesday that they have tendered 13 exclusive rights free agents (ERFA). An ERFA is a player on an expiring contract who has been accrued two or fewer seasons in the NFL. If a team decides to offer an ERFA a tender, that means they are offering a one-year, typically minimum-salaried contract. The ERFA player can then decide to sign that tender or sit out the 2022 season. They do not have the option of negotiating with another team.
In other words, expect all 13 of the following players to be back in Detroit on a minimum-salary deal. Here’s a look at each player who was given an ERFA tender.
LS Scott Daly - No surprise the Lions are bringing back Daly, their successor to Don Muhlbach.
P Jack Fox - Fox has been an outstanding punter for the Lions in the past two seasons. The Lions are likely getting him at a bargain for 2022.
K Riley Patterson - Patterson re-joins the kicking competition after a strong end to his rookie season. Brought in as an injury replacement, Patterson went 13-of-14 on field goals in the final seven games. Austin Seibert and Aldrick Rosas are both still under contract, so there will be a strong kicker competition in training camp this offseason.
CB Mark Gilbert - Gilbert was added midway through the season from the Steelers practice squad. The 24-year-old defender made eight game appearances mostly on special teams, but saw the field as a defender in four different games.
S JuJu Hughes - Hughes was claimed by the Lions after their 2021 season has ended, but because he was on an expiring contract, they had to “re-sign” someone that had never been on their roster. Hughes is a special teamer who spent the first two years of his career with the Los Angeles Rams
RB Godwin Igwebuike - Last year, Igwebuike transitioned from safety to running back. He saw some success in the preseason, and that translated to the regular season when the Lions needed him. He rushed for 118 yards on 18 carries, but did have some fumbling issues. He was also a major force on special teams, tallying the third-most snaps on that unit.
WR Tom Kennedy - Kennedy continues to hang around the roster, as he has since 2019. Last year, he actually managed to get some playing time on offense (149 snaps), though he turned it into just six catches for 54 yards, but one really sweet pass for a 75-yard touchdown. Detroit is looking to upgrade the wide receiver room this year, so it’ll be tough for him to find a meaningful role in 2022, especially with minimal special teams impact.
G Tommy Kraemer - An undrafted rookie from last year, Kraemer was considered one of Detroit’s better post-draft acquisitions. Though he struggled early in camp, he eventually had to start three games in his rookie season and earned a 55.5 PFF grade.
OT Matt Nelson - Nelson struggled early in the season when he had to step in due to Taylor Decker’s absence. However, when utilized as a sixth offensive lineman, Nelson helped Detroit find serious success on the ground. With Decker, Penei Sewell, Nelson, and Dan Skipper under contract, the Lions may not need to do any work at offensive tackle this offseason.
Edge Jessie Lemonier - Lemonier was added to the practice squad at the start of the season. When Detroit’s defensive line was devastated by injury, Lemonier got his shot by playing in the final seven games, including two starts. He only tallied three QB hits and 1.5 sacks, but must have made a good enough impression. He re-joins a room that currently has Romeo Okwara, Julian Okwara, Trey Flowers, and Austin Bryant under contract for 2022. Look for Detroit to add to this room either via free agency or the draft.
LB Anthony Pittman - No Lions player contributed more on special teams last year than Pittman, who logged 378 snaps on the unit (the next closest was C.J. Moore with 302). Pittman also got some opportunities to play linebacker late in the season in subpackages but struggled on defense.
CB Bobby Price - Price was also a key special teams player as the team’s gunner last year. But he also showed some key versatility, moving from safety to cornerback at the beginning of the season. He struggled early, but perhaps the 23-year-old defender will serve as a better reserve with a full offseason at corner.
TE Brock Wright - By the season’s end, Wright was the team’s TE1, due to injuries throughout the season. The undrafted rookie struggled at first, but it’s clear offensive coordinator Ben Johnson likes what he has in Wright.
“It’s really encouraging to see someone, to see a tight end, to see Brock Wright–a guy who didn’t catch many balls in college come up big for us in a game,” Johnson said of Wright in December. “And, really, he is a vertical threat. You don’t see many Y tight ends that can run a legit 4.6 like he can. So I think that’s awesome. That’s just going to open up opportunities for him in the future.”
The Lions now have eight tight ends under contract (nine if you count Jason Cabinda), but Wright has the inside track for the TE2 position behind T.J. Hockenson in 2022.
It’s worth noting that three Lions exclusive rights free agents were not tendered contracts. Those players are edge defender Rashod Berry, center Ryan McCollum, and safety Jalen Elliott.