The Detroit Lions have some situations that they will need to monitor in the weeks ahead of free agency, and while the team isn’t exactly strapped for cash, they could still use a bit of extra money heading into free agency this coming year.
So if the Lions want to free up some cash, which players could be heading out of town in order for that to happen? There’s more than a few players who could be jettisoned in order for the Lions to add to their nearly $50 million dollars in cap space they will possess this year.
Here’s a look at some names to remember that the team could choose to move on from when all is said and done this offseason.
Rick Wagner, OL
The Lions haven’t gotten great results out of Wagner since signing him to a lucrative contract a few years back, and he’s seen injury as well as other troubles get in the way of him becoming a fantastic player. That’s tough too, considering Wagner’s contract status. He’s got an $11.9 million dollar cap hit this season, which is a high total. If the Lions want to save some money, they could release Wagner, even though it would open up another hole up front. They’ll have to weigh the potential savings against what Wagner has done on the field as they try to make their decision.
Damon Harrison, DL
Harrison might be set to retire this offseason anyway, but the Lions could always move on and clear just over $11 million of cap space by moving on from Harrison. It’s not likely to happen as he is a veteran leader and a key stalwart up front for the team’s defensive line, but like Wagner, his removal would open a gaping hole for the team in a key spot. Detroit might want to get younger, however, and moving on from Harrison would help them solve that problem while also saving some money both now and in the future.
Romeo Okwara, DL
The Lions need to reshape their pass rush in a big way this offseason, and that could start by jettisoning one of their bigger playmakers from a few years back in Okwara. The pass rusher was a great find for the 2018 season off the waiver wire with 7.5 sacks, but took a few steps back in 2019, only collecting 1.5 on the season while also seeing his tackle total diminish greatly. Slicing Okwara from the roster would save nearly $4 million for next season and allow the team a chance to bring in some new blood at the key spot of defensive end.
Darius Slay, CB
Slay isn’t likely to be cut whatsoever, but it’s possible the team could look to deal the cornerback in order to get some relief from his $13 million dollar salary this coming season. Slay wants a big money new deal, and if the Lions aren’t sold and don’t want to give it to him, they could look to move on. Trading Slay could save the Lions plenty of money now and a lot of money in the long run as well, even though it would come at the cost of a playmaker and a solid team representative.
Jesse James, TE
It doesn’t make sense that the Lions would outwardly move on from one of their bigger and bolder signings last March. James, however, was a massive disappointment in the first year of his massive contract. Cutting him would only save the Lions just over $5 million and would come at a dead cap hit cost of $8 million, meaning the negatives of this could far outweigh the positives. Still, after a tough 2019 season and the likely continued emergence of T.J. Hockenson, it’s easy to wonder where James could be left as for his future in Detroit. His contract virtually assures James will continue to occupy this list if the production doesn’t match the money. So far, it hasn’t.