Justin Rogers | The Detroit News
The Detroit Lions are continuing to clear cap space ahead of the new league year, informing cornerback Justin Coleman he’ll be released, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Coleman joined the Lions in 2019, signing a lucrative four-year, $36 million contract after a two-year stint with the Seattle Seahawks. Like many members of the team’s defense, he had a prior connection with former coach Matt Patricia, spending the better part of his first two yearswith New England, while Patricia was still serving as the franchise’s defensive coordinator.
In Coleman’s first season with the Lions, he played a team-high 963 defensive snaps, showing a consistent ability to make plays on the ball. He recorded a career-best 13 pass breakups and forced three fumbles.
Still, Coleman’s underlying coverage numbers were concerning. He was targeted 112 times that season, the second-most in the NFL behind only Tennessee’s Logan Ryan, allowing 71 receptions for 869 yards and eight scores.
Those struggles continued into 2020. Limited to 11 games due to an early-season hamstring strain, he allowed 84.4% of the throws where he was targeted to be completed. Meanwhile, the playmaking evaporated. He tallied a single pass breakup and zero forced fumbles or interceptions.
Missed tackles also plagued Coleman during his time with the Lions. Over the past two seasons, he whiffed on his assignment 17 times.
Coleman had been scheduled to have a cap hit of $11 million for the 2021 season. His release will clear nearly $5 million in space. The Lions also have the option of designating him a June 1 cut, which allows the team to spread the dead money remaining on his contract over two seasons. In that instance, it would clear $9 million off the books for the upcoming season.
Coleman is the third member of Detroit’s defense to be informed of their release in the past week. Additionally, linebacker Christian Jones was cut, while cornerback Desmond Trufant reportedly has been informed he’ll be let go ahead of the start of the league year on March 17.
Coleman and Trufant’s departures leave the Lions thin at cornerback. The team will have just three under contract after re-signing Mike Ford earlier this week. He’ll provide depth to go along with projected starters Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye.
There are expected to be several free agent cornerbacks available with connections to Detroit’s new coaching staff and front office, including LaMarcus Joyner, Michael Davis, Troy Hill and Nickell Robey-Coleman.