How NFL’s New Lower 2021 Salary Cap Will Impact Lions

Rod Wood

Getty Rod Wood before the Lions vs. Falcons game.

Like the rest of the NFL, the Detroit Lions were waiting with baited breath this week to see what the salary cap would be for 2021 and the answer finally came and provided a bit of an uncomfortable reality everyone saw coming.

This season, the cap was going down significantly to $182.5 million dollars. That’s a decrease of over $15 million from the previous cap, which means every team in the league is set to deal with some major financial realities this offseason.

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In Detroit, these realities are only now beginning to come closer to the light. The Lions have to continue to clear space in order to not only keep their draft class under contract, but to add some veteran free agents to the mix as well. It’s been assumed the Lions will do some moderate deals this offseason, and that could be true given the fact that the team is just barely under the cap as it stands right now. The Lions have enough to add Jared Goff to the mix after a rumored Desmond Trufant cut as well as a Christian Jones cut and a Jamie Collins restructure, but not much to do anything else at this point in time.

A lower new cap for 2021 could be replaced with much higher caps in future years given the return of fans after the pandemic and new television deals. So the more financially responsible the Lions stay now, the more active they could theoretically turn out to be in the future.

Lions Next Moves With Salary Cap

Detroit could look to make more releases in the days ahead, and it seems likely to think plenty more are coming down the pipe. Names like cornerback Justin Coleman ($6 million dead cap), tight end Jesse James ($4.2 million dead cap) and defensive lineman Nick Williams ($1 million dollar dead cap) could be next up in terms of restructures or releases in order to help the team save some money. The Lions could also free up lots of space by restructuring Goff’s contract, which could be their first order of business once the new quarterback is officially on the ledger. Doing so could free up around $15 million, which combined with other potential savings could give the Lions a decent nest egg with which to work for moderately priced free agents.

It’s clear, though, that some other shoes will have to start dropping soon for this to be reality.

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Lions 2021 Offseason Needs

The Detroit Lions are going to have to make a ton of big moves this offseason in order to supplement their roster and get things back on the right track. Detroit was already looking at a massive offseason of change given the new additions to the front office and coaching staff, but this week, change proved it is likely to be even more deep than first thought. Detroit let wideout Kenny Golladay walk into free agency without a franchise tag, and could be looking at doing the same with pass rusher Romeo Okwara. This means Detroit’s top two free agents who both come at a position of major need on the roster will not be back. That all but sets the team up to be very active in the weeks ahead.

Obivously, the Lions could use help for their offense at wideout and perhaps running back. On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker looks like a massive need, as does edge rusher. The team could also look to add a veteran at either cornerback or safety or perhaps both given the intense importance of those positions in the league. It’s not out of the question that a new quarterback will be on the menu in free agency, either.

Now, the Lions will have to accomplish these missions with a fairly hard cap. There will be challenges, but there is no reason Brad Holmes and crew can’t finagle things to their advantage and have a solid offseason of work before the draft.

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