The Detroit Lions are planning to release veteran cornerback Justin Coleman, as first reported by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
Coleman is just two years removed from signing a massive four-year, $36 million deal with the Lions, the biggest contract at the time for a nickel cornerback. Unfortunately, Coleman’s play on the field rarely matched the deal he got. Coleman struggled on the field in 2019, allowing a 107.3 passer rating according to PFF and earning just a 60.5 PFF grade. Last season, he struggled just to stay on the field, missing six games due to a hamstring injury.
Although he was still considered one of the Lions’ better cornerbacks, this is clearly a cap-saving move for Detroit. Coleman was due to earn an $8.95 million salary in 2021 and cost $11.03 million against the salary cap. By cutting Coleman, the Lions will save just over $4.9 million in cap space with a normal release or $9 million if they decide to use the June 1 designation. It’s important to remember that if the Lions use the June 1 designation, that cap space doesn’t become available until June and the remainder of the dead cap ($4.1 million) will carry over to 2022.
Combined with the impending release of veteran Desmond Trufant, the Lions are now in the need of some cornerback depth. Detroit helped out their case by re-signing Mike Ford earlier this week, but they’ll certainly be looking to add more defensive backs via both free agency and the NFL Draft his April.