In his first offseason as general manager, Brad Holmes has opted for the slash-and-burn approach. The NFL Network reports Tuesday that the team cut backup quarterback Chase Daniel and defensive tackle Danny Shelton, meaning the Detroit Lions have released nearly every veteran on the roster who offered a chance to create meaningful cap space.
Both Daniel and Shelton joined the Lions last season, part of an effort to plug major holes on the roster.
After Detroit went winless in eight games with starting quarterback Matthew Stafford sidelined by a back injury the second half of the 2019 season, the franchise wanted a more reliable insurance policy. Daniel, a 10-year backup, was signed to a three-year, $13.1 million contract.
Shelton was similarly viewed as a solution to a problem. The Lions needed to replace Damon “Snacks” Harrison as the heart of the run defense up front and Shelton, a former first-round pick with experience in the scheme, seemed like an ideal plug-and-play choice. That earned him a two-year, $8 million contract.
In the end, neither was particularly effective. Daniel posted a 72.2 passer rating in parts of four games, while Shelton struggled to replicate the success he had with the New England Patriots in 2019.
The veterans are the latest victims of Detroit’s offseason roster purge. They join cornerback Justin Coleman, linebacker Christian Jones, tight end Jesse James, offensive lineman Joe Dahl and cornerback Desmond Trufant on the chopping block.
In total, those moves are expected to clear more than $22 million in cap space. Additionally, the team freed up another $4 million by restructuring the contract of linebacker Jamie Collins.
The moves allowed the Lions to re-sign one of their top free agents on Monday, agreeing to a new three-year deal with defensive end Romeo Okwara, a pact reportedly worth up to $39 million.