|Dominic Raiola has only been whistled for 14 penalties since 2010. (US Presswire)|
On Thursday, Raiola agreed to restructure the final season of his four-year, $20 million contract, the Detroit Free-Press reported. For the Lions, it's part of a continued reshuffling to get under the salary cap before free agency begins next month. The pay cut could ensure that Raiola will return to the Lions for a 13th season. Raiola would have had a $6.06 million cap hit for 2013 if the Lions were unable to restructure his contract.
"The bottom line is I didn't want to go anywhere else," Raiola told the Free-Press.
The Lions could look to retool a veteran offensive line that has deteriorated in recent seasons. Last week, Detroit released starting right guard Stephen Peterman, an eight-year veteran who had started 48 consecutive games. Lions starting left tackle Jeff Backus, a first-round pick in 2001, will turn 36 in September. On Thanksgiving, Backus' league-high 186 consecutive-games' streak ended when he suffered a hamstring injury. Backus is set to earn $3.5 million in 2013 in the final year of his contract.
Although Detroit has been beset by injuries at running back, its run blocking could be improved in the offseason. The Lions ranked 23rd in the league on runs up the middle (3.70 yards per carry) in 2012, according to NFLGSIS.com. Detroit's run offense finished the regular season 24th overall.
Raiola has been one of the least penalized linemen in the NFL the past several seasons. The former Nebraska lineman has only been called for 14 penalties since 2010. He ended this past season with two infractions. By comparison, right tackle Gosder Cherilus ranked second on the team in penalties with nine.
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