The Detroit Lions have a couple of players that could be added to the 53-man roster very soon. To prepare for those upcoming transactions, the team announced on Thursday afternoon that they have released linebacker Elijah Lee, creating one free spot on the 53-man roster.
Lee surprised many by landing on the Lions’ 53-man roster this season. But ever since, he has been a solid special teams contributor for the Lions—though he was inactive in Weeks 4 and 6.
There are a few reasons the Lions may have made this move. The first, and most obvious, is due to their recent trade for former Cowboys defensive end Everson Griffen. That trade has not officially gone through, so Griffen is not currently taking up a roster spot. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Griffen will have to pass five Coronavirus tests before he can join the team. In other words, he won’t officially join the team until next week
Which brings us to another explanation for the move: cornerback Justin Coleman returned to practice last week, but he remains on injured reserve. If the Lions nickelback is ready to play this week, he’ll have to be activated to the 53-man roster, and now there happens to be an open spot for him. The timing for the Lions would be fortunate here, as Darryl Roberts—Coleman’s backup—popped up on the injury report Thursday.
One other explanation is the potential return of linebacker Austin Bryant, who started to practice last week, but remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list. However, given Bryant was sidelined during training camp, it seems likely Detroit will take their time with him.