The Detroit Lions recently released their starting right tackle, Rick Wagner. Here are three potential replacements Motown can find in free agency.
On Friday, the Detroit Lions elected to move on from their three-year starter at right tackle, releasing Rick Wagner. The move frees up over $6 million in salary cap space but also leaves their offensive line in need of another starter.
Although it appears former fifth-rounder Tyrell Crosby could step up to replace Wagner at right tackle, the Lions do have the estimated salary cap space to find a suitable replacement in free agency if they wish. If they elected to do so, here are three names to consider.
Bryan Bulaga, OT
The Lions plucked right guard T.J. Lang from the Green Bay Packers in free agency three years ago. Perhaps they’d be willing to do the same for the soon-to-be 31-year old Bryan Bulaga. A first-round selection back in 2010, Bulaga does have a Super Bowl ring. But injuries have been a major issue, having missed a total of 13 games over the past three seasons.
Yet, Bulaga did start all 16-games last year and earned himself a positive overall grade of 77.8 from Pro Football Focus, his highest since 2011. But his injured-plagued history, age, and potential price tag could scare off some suitors.
Jack Conklin, OT
A native of Michigan and a product of Michigan State, Jack Conklin was the eighth overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. Despite earning All-Pro honors as a rookie, the Titans opted not to pick up the fifth-year option on the former first-rounder coming off an injury-plagued 2018 where he suffered from a concussion and a knee injury after starting the season late due to an ACL injury.
Last year, Conklin started in all 16 games and is coming off a strong bounce-back season. In fact, NFL.com has him listed as the 16th best available free agent on their current 101 rankings. That likely means he’ll carry a very heavy price tag with him.
Jared Veldheer, OT
Jared Veldheer might be the perfect marriage of the two free agents above. Like Conklin, Veldheer is a native of Michigan by way of Grand Rapids. And like Bulaga, he played for the NFC North’s Packers last season. After starting his first four seasons with the Oakland Raiders, and four more with the Arizona Cardinals, the journeyman lineman has had stops with the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, and Green Bay since.
After agreeing to join the Patriots last year, the 32-year old backed out two weeks later and announced his retirement. Veldheer than agreed to join the Packers at the end of the regular season, getting the start in Green Bay’s playoff victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Having started 113 games over his 10-year career, Veldheer would certainly bring some much-needed experience to a relatively young offensive line in Detroit.