Lions sign offensive tackle Salaam

Updated: May 21, 2009, 4:10 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

The Detroit Lions added veteran experience and depth on Thursday, signing free-agent offensive tackle Ephraim Salaam, an 11-year veteran who played for the Houston Texans the past three seasons.

Jim Schwartz on 2009 season

NFL.com Video

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz talks about turning his team around in 2009.

Contract details were not yet available. Salaam visited with Detroit officials a few weeks ago, but only decided to join the team this week.

Salaam, 32, was a starter as recently as 2007, and has been a starter at both tackle spots in the past. He provides the Lions experience at "swing" tackle, and is a proven blocker who should push for playing time.

Detroit has discussed moving left tackle Jeff Backus to guard, and the addition of Salaam might prompt that switch.

A former San Diego State player, Salaam began his NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons in 1998 as a seventh-round draft choice. He started all 16 games that year at right tackle for a Falcons team that advanced to the Super Bowl.

Salaam started a total of 30 games for the Texans in 2006 and 2007, but was relegated to backup duty last season, appearing in 13 games with no starts.

In stints with Atlanta (1998-2001), Denver (2002-2003), Jacksonville (2004-2005), and Houston (2006-2008), he started in 129 of 154 appearances.

Regarded mostly as a strong run-blocker early in his career, Salaam has improved his pass-protection skills.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.