The Detroit Lions announced on Friday afternoon that starting right tackle Rick Wagner has been released. The move saves the Lions $6.1 million in cap room, but he will still account for $5.8 million in dead money.
Just three years ago, Wagner signed a five-year, $47.5 million deal that was the highest contract ever for a right tackle. Since then, Wagner started 40 of 48 possible games with the Lions, all at right tackle.
Wagner’s performance was up and down, but many believed he wasn’t playing up to his lucrative contract in Detroit. And after spending a 2018 fifth-round pick on Tyrell Crosby, the Lions may be choosing to go with a more cost-effective route at the position.
That all being said, the Lions will certainly need to build their depth at the position. Aside from Crosby, the only tackles the Lions have under contract are Taylor Decker, Caleb Benenoch, and Dan Skipper. With the top of the NFL Draft loaded with good offensive tackle talent, the Lions could certainly be in the market to grab one early.
With Wagner’s release, it’s clear the Lions are making some big adjustments on the offensive line. It doesn’t appear that the team is interested in re-signing starting right guard Graham Glasgow, while the Lions will have an important decision awaiting them with left tackle Taylor Decker, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal.
The free agency period is just a few days away (tampering period begins Monday at noon E.T.), so perhaps the Lions’ plan on the offensive line will come into focus around then.