Justin Wenzel, DLD Contributor
Peterman is out. Raiola is likely on his last legs this year. Cherilus most likely won’t be resigned with younger tackles already waiting in the system to take his spot.
So where does that leave left tackle Jeff Backus? He’s not a free agent with one year left on his deal. His $3.5 cap hit could make it likely the Lions could restructure, but if he returns he’ll be a starting elft tackle. The guy protecting Stafford’s blind side deserves at least $3.5 million, right?
So why is Backus being discussed here? There’s some doubt to whether he will play again. Backus told some reporters he was planning on going over his options at the beginning of this offseason. When Kyle Vanden Bosch and Stephen Peterman were released, there was speculation by some reporters Railoa was the next to go. I happened to stumble across a friend of Backus at a Super Bowl party and he told me it was looking serious that Backus could retire.
“He’s tired,” he told me. “This was supposed to be the year, the year everything came together. Stafford was gonna be All Pro, defense was going to come together, and they were going to make a run at the Super Bowl.”
When a player of Backus’s age and career turmoil invests himself that fully in that one final run, it could spell the end for the guy.
“There’s one thing that could bring him back though,” said the friend. “If they keep Raiola, Backus would come back.”
So why bring Backus back? We might have Fischer or Joekel, and we already have Fox and Reiff. A lot of fans have been hard on Jeff through his entire career.
Breaking news fans! Jeff Backus isn’t terrible!!!!!! Still here? I don’t expect most of you to be.
Fan sentiment is that Backus is a “revolving door at left tackle.” Mutters and groans can be heard throughout Ford Field when you watch their right end slam into Stafford. When a flag gets thrown I’ve more than once heard my grandfather, a lifelong Lions fan, scream “It’s that bleep bleep bleep bleep bleeping left tackle again isn’t it?!”
Backus is a solid left tackle though. STATS has Backus only tagged with 2 false starts and 2 holding penalties, meaning he has 4 “offensive line violations.” He was also accredited with only 1.5 sacks last season, leading the Lions to a #1 ranking in adjusted sack rate according to Football Outsiders.
Backus’s cap number is also miniscule for one final run, especially compared to how good he has been playing. Backus was one of the highest rated tackles last year according to ESPN. His salary? He’s sandwiched between Wayne Hunter of STL and Branden Albert of KC with the tiny $3.5 million. I’d take Backus WAY before I’d take those two guys. He’s playing for what is now a late first round rookie waged scaled contract. So with Backus you get the contract of a 22 year old kid, to not only be one of the best tackles in the league right now but also a major leader in the locker room, and we all know Detroit needs that right now.
Backus is a solid left tackle that wants to finish his career as a Lion. His rookie partner Raiola took a pay cut to give it one final run.
Backus should be back. The Lions want him back. The fans should want him back. And at the end of the year, instead of “Damn it Backus!” maybe we’ll here “Thanks for the memories, Backus.”