The Detroit Lions were one of the teams that made a pretty big splash in free agency’s opening week. Entering the week around 10th in cap space, the Lions splurged... big time. $90 million to Trey Flowers, $36 million to Justin Coleman, $25 million to Jesse James and another $4.5 million to Danny Amendola, among others.
With that kind of spending spree—and some would argue overpaying along the way—you’d think there would be no way the Lions were still in good standing in cap space. But as we saw throughout the week, the Lions back loaded all of their contracts, and now they’re entering the second week of free agency just like they entered Week 1: With a top-10 amount of cap space:
From this morning's cap report, teams with the most space ...— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 17, 2019
1) Colts $77.07M
2) Texans $46.94M
3) 49ers $37.18M
4) Browns $35.60M
5) Jets $35.46M
6) Dolphins $33.36M
7) Bills $33.13M
8) Raiders $32.35M
9) Titans $31.464M
10) Lions $29.45M
11) Eagles $28.72M
12) Bengals $25.11M
With $29.45 million in cap space left, the Lions could still be big players in the later waves of free agency. Considering the Lions will probably keep around $10 million to help sign their 2019 NFL Draft class and carry into the regular season for a rainy day fund (or to help sign extensions in July), that leaves Detroit with plenty of spending money.
The question now is how will the Lions use that money? With such extreme front-loading on their contracts, the Lions are either foreseeing some serious cap changes coming with the new collective bargaining agreement in 2021 or they are lining up to make another few significant moves this year.
Obviously, the remaining free agents available aren’t quite as good as when free agency started, but the second wave features a new set of players—like Donald Penn, Adrian Clayborn, Josh Kline—who were released to save cap space before their 2019 bonuses hit the books. Will Detroit make a play for one of those players or do they have something bigger in their plans? Hopefully we’ll find out sooner rather than later.