On the precipice of free agency, the Detroit Lions have made a shocking move. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the team will be releasing linebacker DeAndre Levy.
The Lions are releasing DeAndre Levy today, per a source.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) March 9, 2017
Levy has only played in six games in the past two years after suffering severe hip and leg injuries in back-to-back seasons. This comes off the heels of signing a four-year, $33.76 million contract back in 2015. While a normal release would just end up saving them $1.19 million, according to Birkett, this will be a June 1st cut:
Levy will be designated a June 1 cut so the Lions will save some cap room for 2017.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) March 9, 2017
That means that the Lions will get a lot more money freed up ($5.8 million per Kyle Meinke), but it won’t be available until after the first waves of free agency. That money could be used for later transactions this offseason, like an extension for Matthew Stafford.
The Lions had a lot of trouble with linebacker play in 2017, but Levy was considered safe because of what little savings his release would offer. Now Detroit has a massive hole at linebacker, even if their signing of Paul Worrilow goes through when free agency opens. Free agents like Dont’a Hightower remain available, but it sounds like he may be returning to the Patriots.
What the Lions do next will be very interesting.
Update 3/9/17: Lions general manager Bob Quinn has released a statement regarding Levy’s release:
“On behalf of our entire organization, I would like to thank DeAndre for his many contributions to the Detroit Lions over the past eight seasons.
“While he excelled as a player during his time with us, DeAndre also had a genuine desire to make a difference off the field, investing a lot of his time and resources in social causes throughout the Detroit community.
“We wish DeAndre the very best in all his future endeavors.”