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Lions free agency news: Matt Nelson will not receive RFA tender from Detroit

Detroit Lions reserve offensive tackle Matt Nelson will not receive an RFA tender, which means he’ll become an unrestricted free agent next week if the Lions don’t re-sign him.

Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

According to a report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Detroit Lions will not be offering backup offensive tackle Matt Nelson a restricted free agent tender. That does not necessarily mean the Lions are not interested in bringing Nelson back, but rather they were not willing to commit to a base offer of at least $2.6 million for the backup offensive tackle.

It’s still entirely possible the Lions want to bring him back at a more affordable price, but considering the relatively small amount for that tender—and the importance of having a swing tackle—it’s likely a sign the Lions are considering an upgrade at the position. Last year, Nelson took up less than $1 million in cap space, playing on an exclusive rights free agent deal.

For the past two years, Nelson—who converted to offense after playing defensive tackle at Iowa—has served as the team’s primary backup tackle. In 2021, he started 11 games for Detroit at right tackle to mixed results. Nelson proved to be better in jumbo packages as a sixth offensive lineman—the role he mostly played in 2022.

The Lions currently don’t have a clear answer as to who will be their primary backup between their talented duo of starters Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker. The only other offensive tackle currently under contract is 2022 undrafted rookie Obinna Eze, who was viewed as a long-term project. Veteran offensive tackle Dan Skipper is set to be an unrestricted free agent next week.

Because the Lions are not offering him a restricted free agent tender, Nelson is now set to become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday as well, provided that Detroit doesn’t sign him to a new contract before then.

Keep up to date on all the Lions free agency news and rumors with our tracker.

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