It was a move that shocked many in the Detroit Lions fanbase.
On Wednesday, the Lions released defensive end Anthony Zettel, who analysts believed was secure on Detroit’s 53-man roster after surviving Saturday’s cuts.
Known to be a hard worker, Zettel was a sixth-round 2016 NFL Draft pick who spent two seasons with the Lions. He was also known for giving his best, which may not been enough to fit into Lions head coach Matt Patricia’s new defensive scheme.
Zettel recorded one sack and 13 combined tackles in 13 games his rookie year. In 2017, he became a full-time starter, tallying 43 combined tackles and ranking second among Detroit defenders with 6.5 sacks.
Patricia briefly touched on Zettel’s release during a presser Friday. He didn’t elaborate much on the decision, insisting the team is focused on Monday night’s game right now, but he did say this:
“Unfortunately we can’t keep everybody. We try to do the best that we can, but we’re always going to continue to try to turn the roster over and try to make the most competition as possible.”
With the cut came the addition of Romeo Okwara, a defensive end waived by the New York Giants. When asked what Romeo could give them that Zettel couldn’t, Patricia said it’s not a direct comparison, one versus the other.
The Lions had a chance to get a good look at Romeo during joint practice with the Giants in mid-August. What Patricia noticed in Romeo is a player with good length, good pad level and the ability to play strong. He believes Romeo has the skill set to be a versatile player from a multiple-level position.
As of Friday, Zettel’s already been claimed by the Cleveland Browns and added to their 53-man roster. The team said goodbye to defensive ends Nate Orchard and Carl Nassib in Saturday’s roster cuts.
The next time the Lions are expected to face the Browns again is in 2021.