The Detroit Lions already had a fluid offensive line situation but that just got a lot more uncertain. Jeff Backus had a year remaining on the two-year deal he signed last offseason but he has decided to retire the team announced today:
Lions have announced that longtime starting left tackle Jeff Backus has decided to retire after 12 NFL seasons.
— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) March 14, 2013
That means the Lions will have at least three new starters along their offensive line next season. In addition to the left tackle spot long held by Backus, the Lions released right guard Stephen Peterman and right tackle Gosder Cherilus signed with the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent this week.
Riley Reiff is a possibility to fill any of the three spots while Jason Fox is a candidate at right tackle and right guard and Corey Hilliard re-signed earlier in the offseason with the expectation that he would compete for the starting job at right tackle.
This news makes an offensive tackle even more of an option with the fifth overall pick in next month’s draft than it already was. While Luke Joeckel is expected to be drafted before the Lions’ pick, perhaps number one overall, the Lions may have a shot at Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan.
Backus released the following statement via DetroitLions.com:
“Today, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time for me to hang up my cleats and retire. It’s a bittersweet moment, but I’m content knowing I gave everything I had, played as hard as I could and tried my best to live up to the standards I believe in.
“I want to thank the Ford Family and the Detroit Lions for allowing me the privilege to represent the city of Detroit and play in the National Football League for the last 12 years. I also want to thank all of my coaches and teammates for all their support over the years.
“To the fans of Detroit, I thank you for the support and loyalty you have shown the Lions and myself. You deserve a winner.
“I also want to express my sincere appreciation to Coach Carr and everyone at the University of Michigan, who all played such an important role in my development as a player and a person.
“Most importantly, I want to thank my wife, my parents, my brother, all of my family and friends, and my agent Pat Dye Jr. Your unwavering support, guidance and sacrifices allowed me to follow my dream of playing in the NFL. I could never thoroughly explain how much that has meant to me.
“To my dad, you set the standards I live by. Your support and unbelievable perseverance motivates me daily to be the best that I can be. Thanks!
“Looking forward, I wish the entire Detroit Lions organization and all Lions’ fans the best. I will always be a Lion at heart.”