Unrestricted free agent Rick DeMulling, who left the Indianapolis Colts two years ago for what he considered a better opportunity with the Detroit Lions, is returning to the franchise with which he began his NFL career.
DeMulling, 29, has reached agreement with the Colts on a contract that ends his month-long foray into free agency. Neither the length of the contract nor the financial details were immediately available.
A six-year veteran, DeMulling was the Colts' seventh-round choice in the 2001 draft, and he earned a starting job in his second season, after making just seven appearances as a rookie. In his four seasons in Indianapolis, the former Idaho standout started 41 games, mostly at guard, and established himself as a tough, in-line blocker.
But in 2005, DeMulling signed a two-year contract with the Lions. He appeared in 28 games in two seasons, but slipped down the depth chart and logged only a dozen starts. This spring, the Lions, who are revamping their guard corps, did not attempt to retain him.
In adding DeMulling, a player familiar with the Indianapolis blocking scheme and with most of the team's personnel, the Super Bowl champions are providing themselves depth and flexibility on the line. Although primarily a guard, DeMulling has lined up in the past at center and tackle, and gives the Colts an experienced backup all along the line.
Furthermore, both of the Colts' current starting guards, Ryan Lilja and Jake Scott, could be eligible for unrestricted free agency after this season. The two are three-year veterans and both were tendered one-year qualifying offers as restricted free agents this spring. Lilja signed the one-year, $1.3 million deal two weeks ago, but Scott has yet to re-sign. Without extensions, Scott and Lilja could depart after the 2007 campaign.
For his career, DeMulling has appeared in 76 games and started in 53 of them.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.