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 2015. Previous free agents profiled are here.
Free agent to be: Ashlee Palmer
Years in the league: 6
What he made last season: Palmer had a cap charge of $1,583,334 last season -- $1.25 million in base salary and $333,334 coming as part of his initial signing bonus of $1 million according to ESPN Stats & Information.
What he did last season: Palmer began the season in a competition with rookie Kyle Van Noy and veteran Tahir Whitehead for the starting SAM linebacker spot. Then Van Noy had surgery and Whitehead slid over to replace the injured Stephen Tulloch, giving Palmer more defensive responsibilities as the team’s third linebacker. He had 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 16 games and also had two special-teams tackles as a core special-teams player for Detroit.
His potential market value: Palmer is a very good special-teams player, but is somewhat limited as a linebacker. There is value in special-teams players who can also do some things defensively, so he might receive some interest from other teams around the league. He isn’t likely to make much more than the vet minimum, though, for his services.
Will he fit the Lions: Yes and no. The Lions need some special-teams players and Palmer was one of Detroit’s better ones after Don Carey and Isa Abdul-Quddus. But he doesn’t have much of a defensive role considering the Lions are hoping Van Noy recovers from injury to take the starting SAM linebacker spot. Plus, with Tulloch back from injury, the team needs to find a role for Whitehead. Palmer might get squeezed out.
What happens: Palmer may want to test free agency to see if he can find a spot where he has a chance at a larger role than what he’ll likely have with the Lions if he were to return. Even then, Detroit may not be a landing spot for him since the team also has Travis Lewis coming back from injury and Julian Stanford on the roster. If he returns, it won’t be for much more than the vet minimum.