The Detroit Lions parted ways with running back Zach Zenner on Wednesday, cutting him from the reserve/injured list.
Zenner was a longshot to make the roster after the Lions added both rookie Kerryon Johnson and LeGarrette Blount this offseason, but his chances went to zero when he was injured early in the preseason finale, suffering an undisclosed back injury.
By releasing Zenner from reserve/injured—with an injury settlement—the running back can actually return to action this year. Theoretically, the Lions could actually bring him back, too. According to league rules, the team that agrees to an injury settlement can re-sign a player an additional six weeks after the agreed length of the injury settlement. For example, if the player gets a four-week injury settlement (payment for four weeks, because, presumably, that would be the length it would take to recover from the injury), the Lions could sign him 10 weeks from today.
There’s actually precedent for this, as well. In 2016, the Lions cut Josh Bynes from reserve/injured just before the season began. A couple months later, the Lions re-signed Bynes and he finished out the season starting eight games for the team.
That sort of path isn’t as likely for Zenner. The Lions’ stable of backs is still crowded, and it’s not clear what role Zenner could play if he stayed in Detroit. That being said, if the Lions are in an injury predicament in November, maybe Zenner gets a call. For now, he’s much more likely to find a spot on another team. Because he’s still not a veteran by NFL’s standards, he will go on waivers immediately.