A closer look at the Lions' 2014 salary cap

Gregory Shamus

Which Detroit Lions players have the biggest cap hits in 2014, and which players might be potential cap casualties? Let's take a look.

Last week, we took a general overview of the Detroit Lions' salary cap situation from 2014 to 2020. Although we got to see all of the different cap hits that are on the books for the remainder of the decade, the numbers didn't exactly tell the whole story. It's important to remember that numerous players under contract right now will be released later this summer, and many others will likely be let go in the coming years before they finish their contracts.

In order to get a better idea of where things stand for 2014, let's take a closer look at the Lions' salary cap situation. You can find a ranking of the largest cap hits on the left side, and on the right side you can see which players would provide the most cap savings if they were let go by the Lions.

Player 2014 cap hit
Player Savings if cut
DT Ndamukong Suh $22,412,500
DT Ndamukong Suh $2,937,500
QB Matthew Stafford $15,820,000
OG Rob Sims $2,575,000
WR Calvin Johnson $13,058,000
DE Jason Jones $2,016,666
-- Dead money $5,563,879
OT Corey Hilliard $1,650,000
LB Stephen Tulloch $5,050,000
DT C.J. Mosley $1,550,000
S Glover Quin $4,550,000
RB Reggie Bush $1,500,000
RB Reggie Bush $4,500,000
LB DeAndre Levy $1,250,000
DE Ziggy Ansah $4,226,023
LB Ashlee Palmer $1,250,000
OG Rob Sims $3,775,000
C Dominic Raiola $1,250,000
DE Jason Jones $3,683,333
LB Stephen Tulloch $1,150,000
LB DeAndre Levy $3,250,000
RB Montell Owens $1,005,000
DT Nick Fairley $3,146,500
RB Mikel Leshoure $843,297
WR Golden Tate $3,100,000
FB Jed Collins $645,000
RB Joique Bell $2,300,000
S Isa Abdul-Quddus $645,000
TE Eric Ebron $2,227,118
WR Kris Durham $645,000
TE Brandon Pettigrew $2,200,000
LB Cory Greenwood $645,000
OT Riley Reiff $2,180,100
S DeJon Gomes $645,000
OT Corey Hilliard $1,900,000
DE Darryl Tapp $570,000
DT C.J. Mosley $1,725,000
LS Don Muhlbach $570,000
LB Ashlee Palmer $1,583,334
QB Kellen Moore $570,000
C Dominic Raiola $1,500,000
WR Jeremy Ross $570,000
CB Darius Slay $1,202,114
WR Naaman Roosevelt $570,000
RB Montell Owens $1,130,000
DE George Johnson $570,000
S James Ihedigbo $1,125,000
DT Andre Fluellen $570,000
RB Mikel Leshoure $1,085,357
LB Julian Stanford $570,000
WR Ryan Broyles $1,003,227
CB Chris Greenwood $570,000
S Don Carey $930,000
CB Cassius Vaughn $570,000
LB Kyle Van Noy $927,655
LB Travis Lewis $555,207
CB Bill Bentley $727,278
CB Jonte Green $545,750
OG Larry Warford $714,250
WR Kevin Ogletree $535,000
FB Jed Collins $710,000
LB Tahir Whitehead $517,000
S Isa Abdul-Quddus $695,000
QB Dan Orlovsky $510,000
WR Kris Durham $645,000
WR Pat Edwards $495,000
LB Cory Greenwood $645,000
OG Rodney Austin $495,000
S DeJon Gomes $645,000
DT Jimmy Saddler-McQueen $495,000
DE Darryl Tapp $635,000
OT LaAdrian Waddle $491,666
LS Don Muhlbach $635,000
TE Joseph Fauria $490,832
WR Kevin Ogletree $635,000
CB Bill Bentley $452,722
QB Dan Orlovsky $635,000
RB Theo Riddick $449,500
CB Rashean Mathis $635,000
WR Ryan Broyles $445,591
LB Tahir Whitehead $623,000
OT Michael Williams $420,000
CB Jonte Green $594,250
RB Steven Miller $420,000
LB Travis Lewis $584,793
WR Corey Fuller $420,000
QB Kellen Moore $576,668
WR Cody Wilson $420,000
C Travis Swanson $574,868
TE Jordan Thompson $420,000
DE Devin Taylor $570,146
OT J.B. Shugarts $420,000
WR Jeremy Ross $570,000
OT Bryce Quigley $420,000
WR Naaman Roosevelt $570,000
C Darren Keyton $420,000
DE George Johnson $570,000
DE Kalonji Kashama $420,000
DT Andre Fluellen $570,000
DT Xavier Proctor $420,000
LB Julian Stanford $570,000
DT Gregory Hickman $420,000
CB Chris Greenwood $570,000
LB Brandon Hepburn $420,000
CB Cassius Vaughn $570,000
CB Aaron Hester $420,000
P Sam Martin $535,075
K Giorgio Tavecchio $420,000
RB Theo Riddick $517,750
OG Alex Bullard $419,666
TE Joseph Fauria $499,166
QB James Franklin $418,666
OT LaAdrian Waddle $498,333
WR Andrew Peacock $418,333
DE Larry Webster $495,146
OG D.J. Morrell $418,333
CB Nevin Lawson $495,146
OG A.J. Dalton $418,333
WR Pat Edwards $495,000
LB Justin Jackson $418,333
OG Rodney Austin $495,000
S Gabe Lynn $418,333
DT Jimmy Saddler-McQueen $495,000
TE Jacob Maxwell $418,000
DT Caraun Reid $467,220
CB Mohammed Seisay $416,666
WR TJ Jones $446,550
S Jerome Couplin $416,000
OT Michael Williams $436,287
FB Chad Abram $415,000
K Nate Freese $434,856
P Sam Martin $414,850
OT Cornelius Lucas $426,666
OT Cornelius Lucas $406,666
FB Chad Abram $422,500
S James Ihedigbo $400,000
S Jerome Couplin $422,000
K Nate Freese $375,432
CB Mohammed Seisay $421,666
S Glover Quin $350,000
TE Jacob Maxwell $421,000
DE Devin Taylor $344,708
WR Andrew Peacock $420,833
WR TJ Jones $340,350
OG D.J. Morrell $420,833
S Don Carey $330,000
OG A.J. Dalton $420,833
DT Caraun Reid $278,340
LB Justin Jackson $420,833
DE Larry Webster $194,562
S Gabe Lynn $420,833
CB Nevin Lawson $194,562
QB James Franklin $420,666
OG Larry Warford $191,500
OG Alex Bullard $420,166
CB Rashean Mathis $70,000
RB Steven Miller $420,000
DT Nick Fairley $0
WR Corey Fuller $420,000
-- Dead money $0
WR Cody Wilson $420,000
C Travis Swanson -$44,604
TE Jordan Thompson $420,000
CB Darius Slay -$963,382
OT J.B. Shugarts $420,000
OT Riley Reiff -$1,063,400
OT Bryce Quigley $420,000
RB Joique Bell -$2,000,000
C Darren Keyton $420,000
LB Kyle Van Noy -$2,124,879
DE Kalonji Kashama $420,000
TE Brandon Pettigrew -$3,000,000
DT Xavier Proctor $420,000
WR Golden Tate -$7,400,000
DT Gregory Hickman $420,000
TE Eric Ebron -$10,022,028
LB Brandon Hepburn $420,000
DE Ziggy Ansah -$10,987,661
CB Aaron Hester $420,000
WR Calvin Johnson -$15,974,000
K Giorgio Tavecchio $420,000
QB Matthew Stafford -$27,221,250

The Lions currently have $147,453,751 committed to the 2014 salary cap, but they have around $2 million in cap space. That's because only the top 51 contracts count against the cap during the offseason. Once the regular season arrives, that rule will no longer apply and all contracts -- players on the 53-man roster, injured reserve, practice squad, etc. -- will count against the cap.

For this year, it's no surprise that Ndamukong Suh has the largest cap hit considering his contract has been restructured so much over the years. A big reason behind the Lions' desire to sign him to a long-term deal is to lower that $22.4 million cap number. A long-term deal isn't necessarily going to provide the Lions with a ridiculous amount of cap room at this point, but it would make his cap number a little bit more manageable.

The really interesting thing here is to look at the right side of the above table. If there's a situation where the Lions are desperate for cap room, who might be on the chopping block? Based on the cap savings if they were let go, guys like Rob Sims, Jason Jones, C.J. Mosley, Ashlee Palmer and Montell Owens jump out as potential cap casualties. That's not to say that any of them are in danger of being cut at this point, but if a cheaper, younger player steps up and takes over a starting spot at offensive guard or defensive end, for example, perhaps the Lions could choose cap savings over veteran depth.

Of course, players are generally released for cap reasons toward the beginning of the offseason, so roster decisions at this point should be based mainly on what happens on the field during training camp and the preseason. Salaries and cap hits are always part of the decision-making process, but the Lions already went through their cap casualties by releasing Nate Burleson, Louis Delmas and Leroy Harris back in February and March. In that sense, it'll be more interesting to look at the "savings if cut" column for 2015 and beyond, so stay tuned for that.

Strictly for 2014, what jumps out to you about the Lions' salary cap situation?

(Once again, special thanks to the Free Press, Spotrac, Over the Cap and the NFLPA. I couldn't have assembled these numbers without the great resources provided by those four sites.)

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