Found March 17, 2012 on
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St. Louis Rams
New York Jets
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Lions have continued their work in this years free-agent market to keep their own players.
They addressed the quarterback position Saturday night, re-signing backup Shaun Hill. They also re-signed starting offensive left tackle Jeff Backus.
Both were unrestricted free agents and could have signed with any team without the Lions getting compensation in return.
Lions sources confirmed the two signings. Both players got two-year contracts.
Hill had visited the St. Louis Rams Thursday and Friday but chose to remain in Detroit.
In St. Louis, he would have been the backup to Sam Bradford.
Earlier this week, the Lions restructured deals with several players under contract, which combined to give the team room under the salary cap to re-sign their own players.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Nate Burleson and defensive tackle Ndamukong all restructured their existing deals.
Later, wide receiver Calvin Johnson renegotiated his contract, making it an eight-year, 132-million deal. The 2012 season would have been the last on Johnsons existing contract without the renegotiation.
The Lions still have work to do in free-agency. They could be working to re-sign middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch, and the cornerback position needs to be addressed in free-agency or next months draft.
Backus has been one of the most durable offensive linemen in the NFL. He has never missed a game since coming to the Lions as a first-round draft pick in 2001, starting 176 straight in the regular season, plus the playoff game against New Orleans at the end of last season.
Backus had two major injuries last year. A torn pectoral muscle sustained in an offseason workout forced him to miss most of training camp. And late in the playoff loss to the Saints, Backus sustained a torn biceps.
General manager Martin Mayhew has said he expects Backus to be fully recovered before the Lions begin training camp.
Hill has been a valuable backup to Stafford since coming to the Lions in a 2010 trade with the San Francisco 49ers. Having him back is a relief to the Lions, and it gives Stafford a veteran presence as he continues his development.
Hill had made it clear all along that his first choice was to return to the Lions, and Mayhew was on record as saying he wanted to re-sign Hill.
The Lions still have one vacancy on the quarterback depth chart. On Friday, third-stringer Drew Stanton signed a one-year contract with the Jets, who offered him the opportunity to be the backup to starter Mark Sanchez.
Mayhew had said that he expected Stanton to seek to improve his status but would welcome him back if he were willing to accept the No. 3 job.
There are a number of ways the Lions can fill the No. 3 spot. They can take a quarterback in next months draft, sign a veteran free agent, make a low-level trade or wait and claim a quarterback on waivers at some point.
But timing is a factor, and the Lions no doubt would like to have a No. 3 quarterback before the offseason workout program begins on April 16 -- 10 days before the first round of the draft.
Hill started 10 games his first year because of injuries that limited Stafford to only three starts. Hill threw 16 touchdown passes against 12 interceptions.
Stafford started all 16 games last season, leaving scant playing time for Hill, who appeared in only two games and threw 3 passes, completing two.
As the No. 3 quarterback, Stanton was not active for any games in 2011.
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