Detroit Lions: Rick Wagner release shifts focus to offensive line

The Detroit Lions have decided to part ways with starting right tackle Rick Wagner, shifting their focus once again to their offensive line.

The Detroit Lions entered this offseason knowing they need to turn their 3-12-1 team from last year into a playoff contender in 2020. A healthy quarterback under center in Matthew Stafford would certainly help. And to keep the 32-year old passer upright, the Lions have made several investments into their offensive line in recent years.

Since taking over as general manager in 2016, Bob Quinn has used two first-round selections on offensive linemen. Those players being starting left tackle Taylor Decker and center Frank Ragnow. In 2017, Quinn signed two high-profile free agents in right guard T.J. Lang and right tackle Rick Wagner. The latter was signed to a five-year, $47.5 million contract.

Lang was released last March and retired soon after. Now, Wagner has been released as well. On Friday, the Lions announced they are parting ways with their 30-year old right tackle. The move will free up $6.1 million in salary-cap space for the Lions according to ESPN.com. But because Wagner still had two years left on his contract in Detroit, there’s also $5.8 million of dead money to account for.

In his three years with the Lions, Wagner never played a full-16 game season missing a total of eight contests during his tenure in the Motor City. The analytics website Pro Football Focus gave the seventh-year veteran an overall grade of 59.0 for his play in 12 games last season, the lowest of his career by far.

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Combined with the expected loss of guard Graham Glasgow to free agency, the Detroit Lions’ needs this offseason shift to their offensive line once again. Although Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press believes former fifth-rounder Tyrell Crosby is in line to replace Wagner at starting right tackle, Detroit could also find his replacement in free agency or in the upcoming NFL draft.

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