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The Lions are still in the process of planning for free agency in March, but they’ve already decided to move on from one of their top pending free agents.
Offensive lineman Manny Ramirez, whom the Lions acquired in a draft-night trade last year, won’t return to Detroit in 2016.

A fourth-round pick by the Lions in 2007, Ramirez started seven games in 2015, but could’ve played more with how much the rest of the interior offensive linemen struggled. Now, he’ll look to join another team and possibly earn a full-time starting role.

After his first stint with the Lions, Ramirez was with the Broncos from 2011-14, but Denver traded him last April in a deal in which the two teams exchanged first-round picks.

Ramirez, 32, started the first five games of the season, playing both left and right guard, but when right guard Larry Warford returned for Week 6, rookie Laken Tomlinson started ahead of Ramirez at left guard.

Ramirez didn’t start again until Week 13 when he played for injured center Travis Swanson, which he did in Week 17, too.

The Lions invested draft picks into their interior offensive line in each of the past three years, taking Warford in the third round in 2013, Swanson in the third in 2014 and Tomlinson in the first last year.

Still, the team needs more depth at the position and potentially competition for Swanson, but the Lions and Ramirez don’t plan to reunite in 2016.

This could be a sign of things to come for other veterans under new general manager Bob Quinn. The Patriots typically try to stockpile compensatory picks, and if Ramirez or other pending free agents play well for another team next season, the Lions could receive more draft picks.

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/jkatzenstein

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