No team in the NFL has been as forceful as the Detroit Lions in the past few months when it comes to changing the direction of their franchise. The Lions will head into the 2021 NFL regular season with a new general manager, head coach, coaching staff, and starting quarterback. This isn’t your same old Lions.
Yet, there are still more changes to come. Remnants of the previous regime remain on the roster. And there’s little doubt that many of those faces will change as the Lions’ new regime begins to build the depth chart to their liking.
But where might new general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell start? One NFL insider believes he knows. And it begins by getting rid of some bad contracts. That due in part to the NFL salary cap having a floor of $180 million following a year impacted by a worldwide pandemic.
Around The NFL Editor for NFL.com Gregg Rosenthal identified four Lions’ players who could be potential cut candidates this offseason in a recent story appearing on the league’s official website. Those names are quarterback Chase Daniel, tight end Jesse James, cornerback Desmond Trufant, and slot corner Justin Coleman. Here’s Rosenthal’s explanation of why …
“No team is more clearly rebuilding than the Lions, so the first order of business for new general manager Brad Holmes will be to excise bad contracts.”
Daniel signed a three-year, $13.05 million deal last March that includes a voidable clause according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. He played in four games last season, a total of 65 offensive snaps as insurance for quarterback Matthew Stafford who missed eight games due to injury in 2019.
James inked a four-year deal worth $25 million to join the Lions in March of 2019. Detroit opted to use their first-round selection that same year on Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson. As a result, James has underperformed his contract recording a total of 30 receptions for 271 yards and two touchdowns in his two seasons in the Motor City.
Trufant signed a two-year, $21 million contract just last year, with a reported $14 million guaranteed. But a hamstring injury would limit the 30-year old cornerback to six games in 2020. Trufant would record 20 total tackles, four pass deflections, 1.0 sack, and one interception.
Finally, the Detroit Lions signed Justin Coleman to a four-year, $36 million deal in March of 2019. That contract made him the highest-paid slot corner in the NFL at the time. A hamstring injury also limited Coleman to just 11 games last year. Pro Football Focus gave his overall play a career-low grade of 47.4 in 2020 allowing 38 receptions on 45 targets.