Last year the Detroit Lions had a very active free agency. One of their top free agency signings was tight end Jesse James. The Lions gave him a four-year, $22.6 million deal that includes $10.5 million guaranteed.
That is a ton of money for a guy that had 16 receptions for 142 yards last season.
Going into his second season on the Lions roster it might feel like his roster status is safe based on his contract, but his play just didn’t live up to the hype of the contract the Lions gave him.
Question of the day: Will Jesse James make the 53-man roster?
My answer: Yes.
At this point I think James will make it on the final roster, but that has more to do with a limited offseason than a projection of better play in 2020.
If the NFL had a full offseason complete with OTAs and training camp, I think James would be a very probable candidate for getting released.
Another factor is just how little offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell utilized the tight end last season. I’m not sure in a typical year if the Lions would be able to waste a roster spot on an overpriced tight end who made less than 20 catches in an entire season.
Then there’s the aforementioned contract. The Lions would actually save $1.3 million in 2020 cap space if they cut him now (due to the post-June 1 release). But the Lions would simply be pushing that dead cap hit to next season, when James would cost the Lions $4.3 million without even being on the roster. Considering the cap is actually expected to go down next year, the Lions likely aren’t willing to make that sacrifice.