Last February, when the news hit that Lions veteran center Dominic Raiola had agreed to a significant pay cut, that he would, after 12 years of service, 11 as a starter, play for the veteran's minimum in 2013, quarterback Matthew Stafford sent him a text message.

"He said, 'You always told me it wasn't about the money,' and that kind of hit me," Raiola said Wednesday, after grinding out another organized team activity. "I always said, you want to play this game, you want to be good, you have to have a passion for it. If you start playing for money, then the years will become shorter and shorter.

"That's where I am now. You can say I am full of (expletive), but that's the way it is. It really isn't about money. I want to be here, wholeheartedly, I still want to play this game. I love this game."

If you expected a different take from Raiola, if you expected him to be embittered or petulant, you haven't been paying attention these last 12 years. This is a guy who lives to play football; a guy who loves being a Detroit Lion.

Coming into the offseason, he was on the books for $6.1 million. His base salary, based on the final year of the deal he signed in 2009, was $4.1 million, plus a carry-over bonus of $2 million.

General manager Martin Mayhew made it clear he was restructuring the aging offensive line, looking to get younger and less expensive. Right guard Stephen Peterson was released. Right tackle Gosder Cherilus, a free agent, was not pursued. Left tackle Jeff Backus retired. And Raiola was given an option: Take a pay cut or be released.

Once he got over the initial shock, Raiola handled the situation with his usual mix of professionalism and pragmatism.