The Lions have informed longtime center Dominic Raiola that they won’t be bringing him back for the 2015 season, a source tells Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Raiola’s contract with the team is set to expire, making him eligible for unrestricted free agency in March.
Raioala, who turned 36 last month, has been with the Lions since the team drafted him 50th overall in 2001. He became the full-time starter at center in his second year with the club, starting 203 of a possible 208 regular season contests since then. Prior to being suspended and sitting out Detroit’s Week 17 matchup against the Packers this season, Raiola hadn’t missed a game since 2008. As Birkett notes, the veteran lineman indicated at season’s end that he hoped to continue his playing career.
“I’m optimistic,” Raiola said earlier in January. “I think I will be [back], but I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m not. I still want to play, I still think I have a lot to offer and a lot to offer this locker room. If I could go one more go around, I’d be honored.”
Of course, Raiola was referring to the idea of returning to the Lions for one more year, so it’s not clear whether or not he’ll want to continue playing for another team. In Detroit, 2014 third-rounder Travis Swanson appears poised to take over at the center position for the coming season.