After rosters were unlocked following the Super Bowl, the Detroit Lions wasted little time in making some moves. On Monday, they released wide receiver Titus Young, and they followed that up by releasing offensive guard Stephen Peterman and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch on Tuesday. Let's examine each move and what might be in store for the Lions next.
Unlike the other two moves, which were based on the salary cap and play last season, releasing Young all came down to his behavior. The Lions just could not continue to have Young on their team after his numerous missteps on and off the field. Let's review just how many chances he got as a member of the Lions before they finally said enough is enough:
- Benched against New Orleans Saints in 2011 for unnecessary roughness penalty
- Sent home for a week after allegedly sucker-punching Louis Delmas during an offseason workout
- Benched against St. Louis Rams in 2012 for head-butting Janoris Jenkins
- Benched against Green Bay Packers in 2012 and later sent home for allegedly lining up incorrectly on purpose
- Sent home for the season after continuing to be a distraction
- Went on a ridiculous Twitter rant last month
Because of his actions, there was no trade market for Young, and there certainly wasn't any chance of him turning his career around in Detroit. There was no chance the locker room was going to welcome Young back, so releasing him was the Lions' only real option.
The Lions decided to release Peterman for two main reasons. The first revolves around cap space. The Lions were actually over the projected 2013 salary cap going into Tuesday, and cutting Peterman saved them approximately $3.2 million. Now, you don't just cut a starter because you can save money, but that leads to the second reason they let him go: His performance last season simply didn't justify keeping him around. The Lions were not pleased with the play of their interior offensive line, and Peterman was at ground zero of their struggles. It's time for a shake-up when it comes to the O-line, and releasing Peterman has essentially set that in motion.
Kyle Vanden Bosch
Although Vanden Bosch is a big-time leader, he was in the same boat as Peterman. His cap number was too big to justify keeping him around based on his play in 2012. He became quite ineffective, and the Lions saved themselves around $5 million in cap space by letting him go. I can't imagine it was an easy decision given how respected Vanden Bosch is, but it was a smart business move.
What do these moves mean for the Lions?
The Lions created $8.5 million in cap room, according to Dave Birkett. This puts them under the projected salary cap. They still don't have much room to work with, but it's a start. At least now they're not projected to be over the salary cap.
From a roster standpoint, this is a sign that the Lions are operating with a sense of urgency we haven't seen in the past. General manager Martin Mayhew is clearly aware that time is of the essence given what happened last season, so he went through with the idea of cutting a couple starters and a former second-round pick. This shows that the Lions may finally be ready to change some things up for the better.
What's next for the Lions?
I'm honestly pretty shocked that center Dominic Raiola wasn't released on Tuesday. I figured he would be a cap casualty as well considering he's got a $6.3 million cap hit for 2013 and because he has been viewed as a weak link on the offensive line. If the Lions truly plan to overhaul their offensive line, I think it's time to find a new center, but he is still on the team for now. Will that continue to be the case? It remains to be seen. On the one hand, you would think he would have been released along with Peterman and Vanden Bosch if the Lions wanted to make a change. Then again, perhaps they're not ready to commit to changing centers just yet.
Going forward, I would expect the Lions to continue making changes, but we may have to wait until free agency begins in March for them to really come to light.