Lions bring back fullback spot, sign Collins

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions will once again have a fullback.

The team agreed to terms with Jed Collins to a one-year minimum salary/benefit deal on Wednesday morning after coming in Tuesday night to begin meetings with the team. Collins' salary will be $645,000.

"This is a great landing spot for Jed," his agent, Derrick Fox, told ESPN.com on Wednesday.

Detroit became a logical place for Collins to end up after New Orleans chose not to give him a restricted free-agent tender before free agency opened last Tuesday. Collins, who played three seasons with the Saints, had worked with Detroit's new offensive coordinator, Joe Lombardi, for those three years.

Collins played in 47 games for the Saints, carrying the ball 19 times for 49 yards and seven total touchdowns. He also had 39 receptions for 174 yards. The 28-year-old went to Washington State and is from San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

He fills a need for the Lions, who had been hunting for a fullback this offseason. The team brought in Henry Hynoski for a visit last week, but he re-signed with the New York Giants instead. The team then looked to Collins, who has the experience and familiarity with both Lombardi and the offense the Lions plan to run.

"I've kind of always liked to have a fullback around," Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said at the NFL combine last month. "The problem has been if the guy is just going to be an I-back, and that's all he's going to do -- play 10 snaps -- then how do you keep him active?

"So you go to a fullback who can do multiple things, whether it's being a fullback/halfback, which we wanted to do last year with <Montell Owens before he got injured. Special-teams player. Or it's a fullback who can play tight end in some situations or guys who are a bona fide, hardcore, like Montell, special-teams guy, who is a true fullback."

Collins' signing could leave Owens in a precarious position. He was a player the Lions had planned on using in a fullback role, but he couldn't stay healthy last season. Owens restructured his contract following the regular season and the team paid him a $100,000 roster bonus last week.

Owens is set to make $1.33 million against the cap in 2014 and still has a workout bonus of $50,000 he can earn.

The other running back potentially in trouble on the roster is Mikel Leshoure, who ended up being the fourth back in the rotation last season. Entering the final year of his deal, he has a cap number of $1,085,357, including a roster bonus of $148,297 and a workout bonus of $50,000.