Addressing Lions' 22 unrestricted free agents

Addressing Lions' 22 unrestricted free agents

Published Jan. 10, 2013 8:43 a.m. ET

Only one team in the NFL, the Cincinnati Bengals, has more unrestricted free agents this year than the Detroit Lions, based on data from Pro Football Focus.

The Lions still have 22 UFAs from their roster after re-signing linebacker/special-teams standout Ashlee Palmer and safety Don Carey.

Fifteen of those players started at least one game in 2012, including five of the core regulars on defense.

Here's a breakdown on each of the team's unrestricted free agents and a suggestion for what to do with them:
• Chris Houston, cornerback
Despite giving up some big plays in the final two games, Houston was the anchor for a revolving-door secondary.

Advice: Must re-sign him.
• Cliff Avril, defensive end
Avril led the club with 9 1/2 sacks while playing on a one-year franchise tag for $10.6 million, but he didn't create turnovers like he did in 2011.

Advice: Re-sign him if the price isn't too high. If not, a defensive end with the No. 5 pick overall becomes a must.
• DeAndre Levy, linebacker
Strong first half of the season before missing two games because of a hamstring injury. Could be the odd-man out at his position.

Advice: He's a solid player, but the Lions need more playmakers and this could be a place to try to start.
• Justin Durant, linebacker
Another "solid" player who finished second on team with 103 tackles. But in two years with Lions, he has no interceptions, one forced fumble and no fumble recoveries in 29 games, including 26 starts.

Advice: Not a bad decision to bring him back, but he certainly could be replaced, perhaps with more of a playmaker.
• Louis Delmas, safety
Considered the heart-and-soul of the secondary with his passion for the game, but knee injuries have limited him the last two years.

Advice: Re-sign him provided the medical staff expects full recovery.
• Corey Williams, defensive tackle
Knee injury forced him to miss nine games. The emergence of Nick Fairley has made Williams more expendable.

Advice: His return would mean more quality depth up front, but the veteran salary might be too high for an aging player with a bad knee.
• Jason Hanson, kicker
Showed no signs of regressing while making 32 of his 36 field-goal attempts, although he did miss the game-winner in overtime on Thanksgiving.

Advice: If he decides to play another season, the Lions should -- and likely will -- re-sign Hanson, 42, for year No. 22.
• Gosder Cherilus, offensive tackle
Finished tied for seventh among tackles in player evaluations by Pro Football Focus. Cherilus, with 69 starts the last five years, graded extremely high in pass blocking.

Advice: Re-sign him.
• Sammie Hill, defensive tackle
Started three games because of injuries and gives the team a decent back-up player for the rotation.

Advice: Re-sign at the right price.
• Nick Harris, punter
Ranked as one of the worst in the league. This defense desperately needs a better punter to help with field position.

Advice: Finding a punter with a stronger leg absolutely must be a top priority.
• Will Heller, tight end
Good role player who is a quality blocker.

Advice: Re-sign at the right price.
• Kevin Smith, running back
Opened the season as the starter and scored the winning touchdown in Week 1, but his role diminished once Mikel Leshoure became eligible and Joique Bell emerged.

Advice: Need to move in a different direction.
• Stefan Logan, return specialist/running back/receiver
Lost his job on returns for the final game after he had a brain cramp the week before when he thought he was in the end zone and took a knee at the 4-yard line.

Advice: Need to move in a different direction.
• Lawrence Jackson, defensive end
Came on at end and surpassed Willie Young, who got all the hype in the preseason, as the top reserve on the edge.

Advice: Re-sign at the right price.
• Jacob Lacey, cornerback
Signed as a free agent a year ago, Lacey made nine starts before finishing the season on injured reserve.

Advice: Re-sign at the right price.
• Andre Fluellen, defensive tackle
Didn't make the team out of training camp, but was re-signed late in the season and even started the final game because of injuries.

Advice: Bring him back to compete for a reserve role if price is right.
• Don Muhlbach, long snapper
No news is good news at his position.

Advice: Re-sign him.
• Drayton Florence, cornerback
Gave secondary some experience and showed toughness coming back from broken forearm. But Florence lost his job after a miscue in the meltdown against Indianapolis and was inactive for final week.

Advice: Could do worse than giving him another look in training camp at the right price.
• Kassim Osgood, special teams/receiver
Despite missing a tackle on a punt return for a touchdown against Minnesota, Osgood did a good job as a gunner on punt coverage.

Advice: Re-sign at the right price.
• Pat Lee, cornerback
Signed in mid-November after being released by Oakland and played in final seven games for the Lions.

Advice: At 6-foot, 200 pounds, Lee might be worth another look at the right price.
• Dylan Gandy, center
Played in all 16 games on special teams.

Advice: Re-sign at the right price.
• Corey Hilliard, offensive tackle
Inactive for all 16 games.

Advice: Re-sign at the right price.