We noted earlier this month that Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola agreed to restructure his contract, and as we continue to ponder the makeup of the Lions' offensive line, it's worth looking into the available details of the new deal for clues about the next season.
While it makes sense that Raiola will be the Lions' center in 2013, the numbers tell us the Lions haven't made much of a cash or cap commitment to that eventuality. Raiola agreed to lower his base salary to near the veteran's minimum of $940,000, according to one of the Lions' web site writers. Update: ESPN Stats & Information's new salary cap database lists his base salary at $1 million with no bonuses.
In the process, Raiola he lowered his salary-cap number from $6.062 million to $3.012 million.
The Lions' would lose much if anything if Raiola doesn't make the team out of training camp. A $1 million salary is a reasonable investment to lock in the security of a veteran center before free agency and the draft. Releasing him before the season would shave $1 million from his cap figure, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
If the Lions were convinced Raiola couldn't be their center next season, they would have released him outright, as they did with right guard Stephen Peterman and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch. So the guess is they have penciled him in as their '13 starter. But if another player outperforms Raiola in training camp, the new contract would allow the Lions to make a decision based on football rather than the salary cap.