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Detroit Lions sign DL Joel Heath to reserve/future contract

The Lions have signed a young, experienced defensive lineman.

Houston Texans v New England Patriots

The Detroit Lions have signed defensive end Joel Heath to the team via a reserve/future contract, the team announced on Thursday morning.

Heath is a former Michigan State Spartan who spent the first four years in the NFL with the Houston Texans after going undrafted in 2016. Over that time, the 6-foot-6, 302 pound defensive lineman made 32 game appearances and 16 starts. Though he’s only managed to create three sacks over that time, he has some versatility to play both defensive tackle and defensive end.

Last year, Heath signed with the Denver Broncos, but he decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL season due to COVID-19 concerns. He was reinstated with the Broncos this year, but Denver waived him at the beginning of February.

Heath brings some experience to Detroit’s defensive line, which could look much different this year. Defensive ends Romeo Okwara and Everson Griffen are both set to become unrestricted free agents. While both starting defensive tackles from 2020—Nick Williams and Danny Shelton— could be potential cap casualties, saving Detroit a combined $8.7 million in cap space.

The details of Heath’s contract were not made public, but future deals are typically worth the league minimum for a single year.