Saturday, February 9, 2013
Lions GM 'optimistic' veterans will return
By Vince Verhei
You don't think of offensive linemen and kickers as sports heroes, but Jeff Backus and Jason Hanson are fixtures of the Detroit landscape, with 11 missed games between them in a combined 33 seasons. But they are 35 and 42 years old, and there's no guarantee they'll be back in 2013.
Justin Rogers of MLive.com, citing a radio appearance by Lions general manager Martin Mayhew, says that the Lions are "cautiously optimistic" that both players will return. "[Backus] has one year remaining on the two-year deal he signed last offseason," Rogers writes. "He's set to earn a $2.75 million salary, which includes a $500,000 roster bonus to be paid in March.
"His 2013 cap hit will be $3.5 million after factoring in $750,000 from his signing bonus. That money will count against the cap whether he plays next season or not.
"Backus' decision will also impact last season's first-round draft pick Riley Reiff. The second-year pro out of Iowa would move to left tackle if Backus decides to retire, but if he comes back, Reiff would likely play either right tackle or right guard, depending on whether the team re-signs free agent Gosder Cherilus."
As for Hanson, the kicker is entering free agency, but he has said that he will either retire or re-sign with the Lions, and he would be willing to take a pay cut.