Lions Set to Release Expensive Offensive Starter From Roster: Report

Jesse James

Getty Jesse James catches a pass against Arizona.

The Detroit Lions have gotten off to a busy start in free agency, and another shoe dropped on Thursday night in the form of an expected cut.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Lions are releasing tight end Jesse James from the roster. James was just two seasons into a five-year contract but simply put, it didn’t work out for Detroit. James wasn’t productive and the team was left with no choice but to move on.

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Detroit’s tight end room is hardly empty as the team does have T.J. Hockenson in the mix, and he looks to be a budding star. James was hardly taking away his targets, however, and was struggling with finding a way to have consistent production.

Cutting James, who is a former member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, will save the Lions either $2 million or $5 million for next season based on his cut designation. The Lions will save more money if James is allocated a post-June 1 cut than if he is sliced immediately.


Lions Tight End Depth Thin

One thing that seemed like it could work in the favor of James was the fact that the Lions don’t have great depth at tight end. T.J. Hockenson is entrenched on the roster, but beyond that, there isn’t much at all. Hunter Bryant was injured much of last season and is better as a receiver, and the team just signed Alize Mack a month ago, but he doesn’t have any NFL production to rely on at this point in time.

Now that the Lions have officially given up on James, they will have to have a replacement ready and waiting, or may have to look to draft somebody or pick up a low cost free agent. Add it to the already growing list of holes on the roster at this point in time.

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Jesse James Stats

When James signed as a free agent a few offseasons ago, there was some excitement that he could provide the depth needed in order to turn things around on the field for the offense. Exactly the opposite has been true for the Lions and for James himself, who has struggled to make any type of a sizable impact on the field since joining Detroit. In the last two seasons, James has only 271 yards and 2 touchdowns with the Lions on 30 receptions. He’s hardly justified the big contract that he signed in the 2018 offseason.

In Pittsburgh, James put up 1,189 yards, 9 touchdowns and 120 receptions, so the thinking was that he would be a much bigger part of the plan. It seemed possible that James can turn over a new leaf with a new offensive coordinator, but it’s possible his big price tag became the biggest deal breaker for the team considering his limited production.

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