Every day we’ll take a look at one of the Detroit Lions heading for free agency, what he has meant to the team before and a prognosis on whether or not he’ll be back with the club in 2014.
To see all of the free agents profiled so far, click this link.
Free agent to be: Jason Fox
Position: Offensive tackle
Years in the league: 4
What he made last season: $1,323,000 (cap number and base salary)
What he did last season: Fox won the starting right tackle job out of training camp, beating out both veteran Corey Hilliard and undrafted rookie free agent LaAdrian Waddle. After injury-plagued seasons, Fox finally looked like he was turning into the player he appeared to be out of Miami (Fla.). Then injuries returned -- first his groin followed by his knee -- and by the end of the season he was firmly behind Waddle on the depth chart and possibly behind Hilliard as well. He ended up playing in eight games in 2013 and 13 in his four years with Detroit.
His potential market value: Not great. Fox has never been able to put together enough games together to show what he could be capable of when healthy, and that will be a concern to a lot of teams. He is still a young player and if healthy could be valuable -- after all, he did beat out two other players for the job on what ended up being one of the NFL’s top offensive lines -- but that would take a degree of optimism from a team.
Will he fit the Lions still: Probably not. With Waddle projecting as the right tackle of the future after being inserted into the lineup midway through the season and performing well next to rookie right guard Larry Warford, Fox wouldn’t be a starter. Hilliard is still on the roster as well, although at a $1.9 million cap number could have cause for concern about his status with the team entering the final year of his contract. Couldn’t see the team offering him much more than the veteran’s minimum, if anything at all, and he would have to be comfortable with essentially not having a chance to play barring injury.
What happens: Fox probably heads somewhere else if he can find someone to take a shot on him. He has the talent and if he does become healthy could be an asset, but that is not a risk the Lions should take as anything more than a fourth offensive tackle at this point. That Hilliard has familiarity with Jim Caldwell from the time they spent together in Indianapolis could also help the veteran stick around. General manager Martin Mayhew was high on Fox a year ago, saying he had starter-level talent, but that was before two more injuries and the signing and then emergence of Waddle.