The Detroit Lions are in control of their own destiny, as the dramatic cliché goes, but much more is at stake than just getting to the playoffs for some key players. The performance of some guys looking at free agency in 2014 throughout the end of the season, and most importantly in the playoffs, will likely influence their future with the Lions, and the outlook on their NFL careers over the next few seasons.
There are 16 unrestricted free agents of the 53 players on the Lions’ roster. Perhaps the most interesting situation of the 16 is the future of Brandon Pettigrew. Long considered an integral part of the Lions offense, his production in 2013 has been minimal. He’s attracted only 59 targets so far this season. In comparison, Kris Durham has 70 targets in 2013. Of all the free agents the Lions will have to deal with in the off season, Pettigrew is the one who would likely garner the most interest because of his potential. Depending on what he does for the rest of the season, it might be smart for the Lions to move Pettigrew.
Another key free agent for the Lions is Rashean Mathis. The Lions secondary has not been very good this season, and Mathis is getting up there in age at the cornerback position. Unless Mathis and the secondary greatly out perform their previous games, the Lions would be wise to get rid of Mathis and look for a solid player to help boost the weak coverage squad.
Other significant free agents that might be more likely to resign with the Lions include center Dominic Raiola, due to his leadership on an improving offensive line, and defensive end Willie Young. Young has also had a nice season, but should be easy to resign for relatively low coinage.