Detroit Lions: Is 2012 Last Chance for Gosder Cherilus?

Nick KostoraContributor IIIMarch 29, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 28: Gosder Cherilus #77 of the Detroit Lions listens on the bench as fans jeer his team during a game against the Green Bay Pacekrs on December 28, 2008 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Lions 31-21. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Gosder Cherilus is a dying breed, and by that I mean he is a product of the Matt Millen era. 

Few players remain from that piece of Detroit Lions history, and since he was picked 17th overall by Detroit in the 2008 NFL Draft, Cherilus has failed to make his mark in the Motor City.

He has started 55 games at right tackle and yet he is considered one of the weakest pieces along the Lions offensive line (Stephen Peterman being the absolute worst).

So how many more seasons can Cherilus continue to occupy space before Lions management decides to pull the plug on him?

The clock appears to be ticking.

A couple factors signal that 2012 is Cherilus' final chance to prove himself in Honolulu Blue. The first is the fact that the Boston College product is entering the final year of his contract.

Cherilus is by no means expensive at a $2.31 million base salary this season, but if he struggles in the 2012 campaign, there would appear to be little reason to initiate talk of re-signing a mediocre tackle with known knee problems.

The second and perhaps more imminent factor could be the looming NFL Draft in which the Lions are expected to address offensive tackle at some point in the process, according to the Detroit Free Press.

With Jeff Backus re-signed, if Detroit drafts a tackle in the first couple rounds, they will likely be competing with Cherilus to start on the right side in 2012.

Clearly a guy with four years of NFL experience will get the nod in training camp, but can Cherilus and his knee problems sustain the edge at the position?

That question remains to be answered.

What we do know is that Gosder Cherilus' spot at right tackle is not set in stone on Detroit's depth chart.

If anything, it is lightly scratched in with a pencil.

Some insight into what Lions management thinks of Cherilus will be given on draft day, but the rest is up to his play this season.