Lions bringing back Don Muhlbach for 18th season
It took a few days longer than in past years, but the Detroit Lions announced Friday they have re-signed long snapper Don Muhlbach for an 18th season.
Muhlbach has been a model of consistency and durability during his career. Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M by the Baltimore Ravens in 2004, he was picked up by the Lions during training camp that year as an injury replacement for Jody Littleton.
Now, 17 years later, he's appeared in 260 games for the Lions, which ranks second only to Jason Hanson on the franchise's all-time list. Remarkably, Muhlbach, 39, would have to stay healthy and play another five seasons to pass the legendary kicker.
By playing in all 16 games last season, Muhlbach also vaulted into the top-50 in NFL history. He's currently tied for 37th with kicker Nick Lowry. If Muhlbach plays all 16 again this season, he could finish the year in the top-25.
That's a reasonable expectation as he hasn't missed a game since the 2009 season, twice earning Pro Bowl honors (2012, 2018) during that stretch.
In 2020, Muhlbach fended off the stiffest challenge to date for his job, holding off undrafted rookie Steven Wirtel. If there's a challenger this season, it will be someone different. Wirtel signed a futures deal with the Los Angeles Rams in February.
After last season, Muhlbach was non-committal about returning to the Lions as the organization faced another rebuild under a still-to-be-named coach and general manager.
"I mean, I've done it before, so maybe I can help with it?" Muhlbach said. "I don't know. I do feel like I want to get this thing going in the right direction before they get rid of me, so I don't know. All I know right now is my body feels pretty good, and, just, see what happens the next two weeks."
Amusingly, Muhlbach was on the roster when new coach Dan Campbell spent three years playing for the franchise from 2006-08.