After a rocky 2013 season, most figured the Detroit Lions would not bring back embattled veteran kicker David Akers. Those folks were proven right on Friday, as Martin Mayhew provided an update on his plans with regards to some of the team's existing free agents.
Speaking in Indianapolis at the Combine, Mayhew named Akers as one of five Lions' free agents who wouldn't be returning to the team in 2014. Also amongst them are veteran defensive end Israel Idonije, veteran linebacker Rocky McIntosh, safety John Wendling and offensive lineman Dylan Gandy.
Mayhew commented that he expected to explore options with regards to a backup quarterback, but didn't comment on Shaun Hill, who is also slated to be a free agent. With regards to Akers' replacement, Mayhew expects John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio to eventually compete for that job, but the team could conduct a search for a veteran in free agency.
Wendling was a star special teamer for the Lions, serving as the gunner on punt coverage and doing an excellent job for years. Idonije came to Detroit from Chicago as a productive defensive end, but was released after underperforming in 2013. McIntosh was a special teamer as well, but had the ability to fill in at linebacker and start if necessary.
The announcement leaves the Lions thin at several positions. Depth is the heart and soul of a football team, so Detroit will have to scour the draft and free agent market for suitable replacements, especially on special teams, where unsung heroes like Wendling and McIntosh were solid. Kicker will be a position to watch as well, as Potter and Tavecchio lack big time kicking experience.
Just before free agency begins, the Lions now have plenty of other holes to be mindful of thanks to Mayhew's Friday morning announcement.
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