Dec. 16, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA: Detroit Lions tackle Gosder Cherilus against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Lions 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions Free Agent No One is Talking About

A total of 23 Detroit Lions are heading towards unrestricted free agency. When you think about the most important for the Lions to retain, who comes to mind? Cliff Avril? Louis Delmas? Chris Houston?

How about Gosder Cherilus?

Cherilus isn’t likely to be one of the first names that comes to mind. He certainly hasn’t received much attention in early offseason chatter. That’s probably mostly due to a general sense of indifference as far as Cherilus is concerned but that would be a mistake.

Sure, he’s been somewhat of a headcase and commits more penalties than would be ideal but those negatives have unfairly overshadowed the positive.

The truth is that Cherilus has graded out as an above average player by Pro Football Focus each year since his rookie season and is coming off a season in which he received by far the highest PFF rating of any Detroit Lions offensive lineman. The +23.5 rating ranks Cherilus eighth among all NFL tackles and second among right tackles. Among free agent tackles, Cherilus ranks third.

The Lions can and should look to improve their offensive line this season but that should start with retaining, not replacing, Gosder Cherilus. Maybe it is time for Riley Reiff to take over for Jeff Backus on a full-time basis. Maybe it is time to replace Stephen Peterman. Those are the real decisions to make. Bringing back Gosder Cherilus should be the easiest decision the Lions make regarding their 2013 offensive line.

Tags: Detroit Lions Gosder Cherilus

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