clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Detroit Lions have $4.8 million extra in cap space, now what?

DeAndre Levy’s contract is now off the books, so what do the Lions do next?

Detroit Lions v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

On Friday, the Detroit Lions picked up an extra $4.8 million in cap space. DeAndre Levy, who was released back in March, was given the post-June 1 designation, meaning he was immediately released from the team, but his contract would remain on the books until June 2.

Levy, who was lined up to account for $7.6 million in cap space in 2017, remains a free agent after getting what appears to be a second surgery on the torn meniscus he suffered last season.

The Lions aren’t the only team to recoup some money on Friday, five other teams used the post June-1 designation:

With the additional $4.8 million, the Lions should have somewhere in the ballpark of $10.4 million in cap space now. So what, if anything, should they do with it? Here are some options.

Use it for leverage in Matthew Stafford’s contract

To be clear, I’m not saying the Lions should lowball Stafford now that they have a little wiggle room in their cap space. On the contrary, really. Now Detroit has options in terms of how they want to structure Stafford’s contract.

With only $5.65 million in cap space prior to Friday, the Lions would have been forced to backload a contract for Stafford, potentially making them cap-strapped down the line—see: Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh contracts. With the extra money now available, the Lions can use some resources in 2017 to lighten the cap load in the future. This contract is bound to be huge, so the extra money this year could really help move negotiations along, and I’m sure Stafford wouldn’t mind getting some of that money sooner rather than later.

Sign Anquan Boldin

Last year, the Lions snagged Boldin in free agency to a one-year, $2.75 million contract. With help from Levy, the Lions could very well give Boldin a contract nearly identical to the one he signed last year and still have the proper cap space necessary for any in-season injuries.

However, this seems a bit unlikely given that Detroit drafted Kenny Golladay in the third round. Detroit seems to currently have their top three receivers set, and tight ends Eric Ebron and rookie Michael Roberts are primed to take on Boldin’s role from last year.

Still, Boldin would be an excellent mentor to both Golladay and Roberts, and now that the Lions can afford him, it’s certainly worth considering.

Get the Golladay deal done

The Detroit Lions have signed all of their 2017 draft picks, except for one: Kenny Golladay. There hasn’t been any sign of a true holdout—Golladay has participated (and thrived) in all of Detroit’s optional practices—but now Detroit can sign him and easily have room to spare. Golladay is only expected to take up around $660,000 in cap space in 2017.

Roll over the money to next season

It’s always good to keep a little extra cash around, in case of emergency. Just remember last year when the Lions went through all of their injuries at linebacker and cornerback. Detroit had to scramble to claim the likes of Thurston Armbrister, Asa Jackson, Josh Bynes, etc. Every team usually puts aside a good lump of money for that exact reason.

However, it’s just as beneficial to hold onto that money for next year, if you aren’t going to use it. Last year, teams averaged $9.18 million in rollover cap space—thanks largely to teams like the Jaguars, who carried over $39.3 million. Detroit only carried over $4.7 million, but that number is likely to be a lot bigger next year.

Detroit has a lot of big decisions coming up in the 2018 offseason. Ezekiel Ansah is due for a contract extension and, depending on how things go in 2017, it could be a hefty deal. Travis Swanson is also due to come off of his rookie contract, and for a team that just shuffled the entire right side of their offensive line, they may not want to disrupt things further, even if they have Graham Glasgow waiting in the wings.

Glover Quin, Tavon Wilson, Nevin Lawson, Tahir Whitehead and Kerry Hyder are other key free agents in 2018, so every single penny will help give Detroit flexibility in 2018.

NEW: Join Pride of Detroit Direct

Jeremy Reisman will drop into your inbox twice a week to provide exclusive, in-depth reporting and insights from Ford Field. Subscribe to go deeper into Lions fandom, and join us on our path to win the Super Bowl.