Detroit Lions' ageless long snapper Don Muhlbach back for 18th season

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Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press
·2 min read
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They've changed kickers and quarterbacks and coaches, bid farewell to receivers and linebackers, but the Detroit Lions can't get enough of their long-time long snapper.

The Lions re-signed Don Muhlbach on Friday, bringing the two-time Pro Bowler back for an 18th NFL season with the team.

Muhlbach, who turns 40 this summer, has played on a series of one-year, minimum-salary-benefit deals since 2013, saying at the end of every season that he wants to discuss his future with family and whether to keep playing.

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Last year, Muhlbach withstood arguably his greatest training camp challenge, from Steven Wirtel. He said late in the season he was not sure if he'd be back in 2021, but could possibly help a turnaround if he returned.

When the Lions refused to commit to Wirtel after the season — Wirtel turned down a futures deal from the Lions for a low-guaranteed offer from the Los Angeles Rams — it was apparent Muhlbach was not done playing.

"I’ve done it before, so maybe I could help with it,” Muhlbach said in December of navigating the Lions' regime change. “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 is, right now, my body feels pretty good and just see what happens the next two weeks.”

Assuming Muhlbach survives another training camp challenge from whoever the Lions bring in to compete for the job, he will be part of a different-looking special teams unit this fall.

The Lions changed special teams coordinators for the third straight year, hiring Dave Fipp, and parted ways with kicker Matt Prater.

Prater signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals on Wednesday, and the Lions are expected to add Randy Bullock as his replacement.

The Lions entered the week with 18 pending unrestricted free agents, and have re-signed three of those players so far: Muhlbach, defensive end Romeo Okwara and linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin. They traded quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams, and have had five players sign with other teams: Prater, Marvin Jones (Jacksonville Jaguars), Jamal Agnew (Jaguars), Jarrad Davis (New York Jets), Reggie Ragland (New York Giants).

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions re-sign long snapper Don Muhlbach for 18th season