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Detroit Lions 2016 cuts: Surprises from the 53-man roster deadline

Lions fans learned today that in Bob Quinn’s world, nobody is safe and hard work pays off.

Detroit Lions v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

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The front office is judging on future value

In line with the three things we learned about Bob Quinn after the first day of roster cuts to get down to the 75-man roster, the moves at the final cut down were rational and forward-looking. Observing the economic decision making rule to ignore sunk costs that cannot be retrieved and focus on future value, the Detroit Lions were willing to cut young players they spent resources on in the past.

Several young prospects the Lions used draft choices on in the past were among the players released today: 2015 third-round pick CB Alex Carter, 2014 fifth-round pick DT Caraun Reid, 2014 sixth-round pick WR TJ Jones, and 2015 fourth-round pick DT Gabe Wright. Also released was 2016 sixth-round pick QB Jake Rudock. In the case of Wright, the sunk costs involved were higher than his draft position indicated: Detroit traded up to that spot to select him.

To a lesser degree, one could also include G Brandon Thomas to this list since the team traded WR Jeremy Kerley to get him. Also related, the Lions absorbed cap hits against their 2016 salary cap for CB Darrin Walls and all of the aforementioned draftees who were cut. According to Sportrac, when added to the cap hits from releasing Geoff Schwartz and Stevan Ridley earlier in preseason and trading Kerley, all of the cuts to get from 90 players down to 53 players generated about $1 million in dead money.

All of this shows Bob Quinn is willing to accept some short-term losses for long-term improvements in the roster. This is a very good thing, and fans should not automatically be discouraged by the release of young draft picks. As pointed out by Jeremy’s article after the 75-man cut down, the team gave everyone a chance to show what they had; after a fair shot, Quinn “cut ties when he believed he needed to. That takes some guts.” That willingness to make hard choices ought to be encouraging to anyone who roots for the Lions.

Four wide receivers

Very early in the day, Justin Rogers shared an interesting bit of information about how many wide receivers Detroit was going to keep. This was of particular interest at the time because the release of TJ Jones had just been announced and both Jay Lee and Jace Billingsley had not yet been cut.

Indeed, the Lions only kept Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Anquan Boldin, and Andre Roberts. The second part of Rogers’ tweet makes a lot of sense: the Lions are probably going to move Jon Bostic to the injured reserve list and then sign a fifth wide receiver back onto the roster from the ones released to meet the cut down deadline.

No, Jeremy. Just... no. But for those who despaired earlier in the day over the release of the pride of Winnemucca, I say to you: THE DREAM IS STILL ALIVE.

The Lions have very little offensive line depth

A worrisome situation I’d pointed out in my (extremely incorrect) 53-man roster prediction was that Detroit had Gabe Ikard and a pair of rookies (Joe Dahl and Graham Glasgow) as their only interior line backups. Well, Gabe Ikard was released in the first transaction leading to 53, so the team is going to roll with only the two rookies for the interior of the line. Little did we know there were unexpected developments looming on the outside as well.

Michael Ola was signed in the middle of the 2015 season and calmed down the dumpster fire situation at right tackle that had been raging until his arrival. Throughout the entire offseason, it was assumed Ola would be the primary backup tackle since he “performed just about as well as anyone could expect” in real games last year. By releasing Ola, the Lions are left with Cornelius Lucas (who Ola was brought in to replace in 2015) and untested former seventh-round pick Corey Robinson as the backups.

The most unexpected survivor of the day

This one was pretty much a consensus pick among the beat writers, and amazed everyone on the POD staff except Kent Lee Platte. Although Kent did not have Barnes making the cut in his 53-man projection, he has been saying Barnes looked good against Buffalo and has some potential for the past couple of days.

Congratulations to former Louisiana Tech Bulldog CB Adairius Barnes for demolishing the odds and working his way onto the roster as an undrafted free agent this year.

We actually got one right for a change

Another sort-of unexpected name that made not only the actual 53-man roster but all three of the Pride Of Detroit 53-man roster projections by Jeremy, Kent, and myself was DE Kerry Hyder. The converted defensive tackle had an outstanding preseason, besting all other pass rushers in the league statistically.

Just a wonderful example of a player being given an opportunity and making the most of it. Initially signed as an undrafted free agent and then sent to the practice squad in 2014 by the New York Jets, Hyder arrived in Detroit on a futures deal and spent almost all of 2015 on the Lions’ practice squad. In a new role on the outside of the defensive line, he now takes the next step to a hard-earned spot on the permanent roster. Congratulations are in order for the most dominant pass rusher of the 2016 preseason.

Finally, big ups to the beat writers giving us the reports

  • Kyle Meinke at
  • Dave Birkett at the Detroit Free Press
  • Justin Rogers at the Detroit News
  • Mike Rothstein at ESPN

Those guys do a heck of a job keeping the information flowing. Be sure to thank them whenever you have a chance!

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