Lions Announce Parting Ways With Athletic Depth CB

Dan Campbell Craig James

Getty Head coach Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions waived injured defensive back Craig James on June 11.

The Detroit Lions made a change at linebacker on June 10. One day later, they made another switch on defense, waiving defensive back Craig James.

The Lions announced the move on their official X (formerly Twitter) account.

Detroit signed James to a reserve/futures contract following the team’s postseason exit in the NFC championship game. James spent the 2023 season with the New York Jets.

In two games, he recorded 1 combined tackle and 1 pass defense with the Jets. He played 42 defensive snaps and 27 snaps on special teams.

The Lions waived James on June 11 with an injury designation.

“James, who was on the list of non-participants at mandatory minicamp, will likely revert back to injured reserve after clearing waivers,” The Sports News’ Mike Moraitis wrote. “From there, James will need an injury settlement to be removed from the list.”

James is entering his seventh season in the NFL since being an undrafted free agent in 2018.

In July 2022, SB Nation’s Gang Green Nation’s Bent described James as a solid athlete.

“James, who ran track in high school, is a pretty good athlete who has adequate size, but lacks length,” Bent wrote. “Although he missed his pro day workout due to injury, he had earlier run a 40-yard dash in 4.50 at Northwestern’s pro day.”

Lions Waive CB Craig James

Despite being undrafted in 2018 and not making the Minnesota Vikings roster out of training camp, James still spent a good portion of his rookie season with the Vikings. He dressed for three games, playing 25 snaps on special teams.

In 2019, he joined the Philadelphia Eagles, where he dressed for 14 games and even made 1 start. James also played for the Eagles in 2020.

James spent 2021 and 2022 with the Eagles and then Jets but didn’t play in the regular season. Last year, he signed with the Jets practice squad after training camp.

He appeared on the team’s active roster in Week 5 and 6. James played 41 of his 42 defensive snaps last season during Week 6.

The Lions added James to their roster likely with the intention of him filling a similar role in Detroit during 2024. But the Lions have built solid cornerback depth this offseason, and James’ injury probably sealed his fate with the team.

Detroit’s CB Depth After NFL Minicamp

The Lions finished 27th in pass defense last season, so the team made its secondary a top priority this offseason.

First in free agency, the Lions signed Amik Robertson and traded for Carlton Davis. Then the Lions spent their first two draft picks on cornerbacks — Terrion Arnold and Ennis Rakestraw.

Obviously, with those four new additions, the Lions have a much stronger cornerback group on paper. Detroit also re-signed Kindle Vildor, Khalil Dorsey and Emmanuel Moseley from last year’s squad. Additionally, in the slot, second-year cornerback Brian Branch is expected to take another step forward after a solid rookie season.

It’s unclear yet who among this mix of veterans and youngsters will play on special teams. But the amount of cornerbacks on the roster likely made James expendable, especially with him injured.

The Lions also have 24-year-old cornerback Steven Gilmore on the roster. While dressing for three games last season, Gilmore played 25 special teams snaps.

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