clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2023 Detroit Lions free agent profile: Can Tommy Kraemer reclaim his backup guard role?

After an injury-riddled 2022 season, can guard Tommy Kraemer reclaim his backup role?

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions have 28 players from their 2022 roster set to become free agents in 2023 (18 unrestricted, 10 restricted), and we are covering them all throughout the month of February.

If you missed any of the previous articles, you can check them out here:

Unrestricted free agents: WR DJ Chark, RB Jamaal Williams, RB Justin Jackson, QB Nate Sudfeld, IOL Evan Brown, OT Dan Skipper, NT Isaiah Buggs, EDGE John Cominsky, EDGE Austin Bryant, LB Alex Anzalone, LB Josh Woods, LB Chris Board, CB Will Harris, CB Mike Hughes, CB Amari Oruwariye, SAF DeShon Elliott, SAF C.J. Moore, and K Michael Badgley

Restricted free agents: OT Matt Nelson, C/G Ross Pierschbacher, CB Bobby Price

Exclusive rights free agents: RB Craig Reynolds, LS Scott Daly, TE Shane Zylstra

Next up:

Tommy Kraemer

Expectations heading into 2022

After a 2021 season in which he was a key reserve on the offensive line, Tommy Kraemer headed into training camp with good odds of retaining his role in 2022. With he and fellow backup Evan Brown in the fold, the Lions at the very least had a pair of interior linemen that they could trust in a pinch.

Like Brown, Kraemer filled in at multiple spots in 2021—playing both guard spots for periods of time when starters Jonah Jackson and Halapoulivaati Vaitai missed time due to injuries.

Actual role in 2022

Did not play

After suffering a back injury during the preseason, Kraemer was not eligible to return to action until the Lions’ Week 7 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. And unfortunately for Kraemer, that same injury kept him sidelined for the entirety of the 2022 season—leaving the Lions even more shorthanded at the position after also losing Vaitai early.

It’s unclear the severity of his injury, but coach Dan Campbell curiously said in late October that he was potentially close to a return.

“I could see him being back at some point here over the next few weeks possibly,” Campbell said.

Despite that, Kraemer never even returned to practice over the following 2.5 months.

Outlook for 2023

Contract status: Exclusive rights free agent

The starters along the Lions’ offensive line are more or less set from end to end, with the exception of a possible change at right guard. However, beyond the starting five, there is much less certainty. Reserves Logan Stenberg and Kayode Awosika are both under contract for 2023, and Darrin Paolo is signed to a futures deal—but Brown and Kraemer have been the Lions’ primary backups on the interior offensive line for two years now. And with how prevalent injuries are along the offensive line in the NFL, having competent backups is nearly a necessity.

Similar to other areas of the roster, this is a spot where the Lions could bring back a player like Kraemer. They have seen him play some fairly steady football from his time in the lineup in 2021, and he wouldn’t break the bank from a salary cap standpoint. Is his performance in 2021 enough for him to at least be brought in for training camp?

On the other hand, Kraemer’s developmental ceiling is likely not all that high, and nobody is going to fault general manager Brad Holmes for wanting to get younger at the position.


Should the Lions re-sign Tommy Kraemer?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    (478 votes)
  • 39%
    (317 votes)
795 votes total Vote Now

NEW: Join Pride of Detroit Direct

Jeremy Reisman will drop into your inbox twice a week to provide exclusive, in-depth reporting and insights from Ford Field. Subscribe to go deeper into Lions fandom, and join us on our path to win the Super Bowl.