Since the end of Super Bowl XLVII, NFL teams have been able to cut players going into the 2013 season. The Detroit Lions wasted no time to try and free up salary cap by cutting three players. Titus Young, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Stephen Peterman were all sent packing by the team. The Lions now face even more position needs in free agency and the 2013 NFL Draft. However, one move the Lions are thinking about making could be the team’s biggest one yet.
Dominic Raiola has started all 16 games in each of the last four Lions’ seasons. In fact, since Raiola was drafted by the Lions in 2001, he has missed only four games in his 12 year career. However, a poor season from Raiola, along with his age, have the team thinking about cutting him and going in a younger direction.
General manager Martin Mayhew and head coach Jim Schwartz both refused to back Raiola as the team’s starting center next year. Raiola does have one year remaining on his contract, so this was rather surprising. In 2013, the Lions will pay Raiola $4.05 million in base salary. Over $2 million will also be paid to Raiola in bonuses depending on if he isn’t cut.
If the Lions choose to cut Raiola, they will likely turn to Bill Nagy. The Lions acquired Nagy after the Dallas Cowboys put him on waivers due to an injury. Detroit pounced on the 2011 seventh rounder who can play guard or center. Due to injuries, Nagy has only played four NFL games. The 25 year old is set to make $480,000 in 2013 and $645,000 in 2014. After two seasons, Nagy will be a restricted free agent, giving the team the power to re-sign him.
Raiola brings experience and leadership to the Lions locker room. Recently, Raiola’s attitude and play has taken a decline. Dominic told teammates to “grow the f*** up”. Raiola also did a poor job keeping defenders away from quarterback Matthew Stafford. This is a win-win for the Lions to cut Raiola. The team can go a younger route with Nagy or a draftee and also free up cap space for free agency.