The Detroit Lions figure to have a lot of turnover on their starting offensive line and the first domino to fall is the re-signing of Corey Hilliard. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted the news this morning:
Lions signed OT Corey Hilliard to a two-year contract extension. Hilliard is expected to compete for Lions starting RT job.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 1, 2013
Tweets may be limited to 140 characters, but this one says a lot.
First, it likely signals the end of the road for the Gosder Cherilus with the Detroit Lions. That might be welcomed news to some fans but Cherilus finally put an end to a lot of his inconsistencies last year and it resulted in a fine season. If the Lions had more room under the cap they would have been wise to bring Cherilus back instead of Hilliard but the reality of the situation is that money plays a role in who comes back and who doesn’t.
Hilliard getting re-upping with the team with the intention of competing for the starting right tackle job also has a big impact on Riley Reiff. It wouldn’t be good news if last year’s first round pick simply got beat out by Hilliard but that isn’t the only way Hilliard ends up with the job. If Jeff Backus doesn’t retire, hopefully Reiff will have an opportunity to unseat the veteran. With Cherilus gone via free agency and Reiff at left tackle, the door is open for Hilliard at right tackle.
The other possibility involving Reiff is that the Lions determine getting their five best offensive linemen on the field together means Reiff plays right guard. Perhaps that means Backus returns and shows he can still hold down his familiar left tackle spot or the Lions use the fifth overall pick to take another offensive tackle and the difference between Reiff over the other guard candidate is greater than the difference between Reiff and Hilliard at right tackle.
The good news is that whatever the situation turns out to be, the Lions have options. The next domino to fall is next month’s draft.