As expected, the Detroit Lions will be making more roster moves to clear out cap space before the start of the new league year. Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, quarterback Chase Daniel and defensive tackle Danny Shelton are being released. Combined, the moves should clear out a total of $6.3 million in cap space for the 2021 season.
The Lions were reportedly looking to trade Daniel last week, but apparently couldn’t find any suitors willing to take on his $4.3 million salary this year (and potentially $5 million salary in 2022). Daniel was signed to a three-year deal last season, but with the Lions going through a new rebuild—including a new starting quarterback—spending that much on a backup quarterback seemed excessive.
The Lions are now without a third quarterback on the roster. While the Lions may be fine moving forward with youngster David Blough backing up Jared Goff, expect the Lions to either add either a veteran to help guide the young quarterback room or find someone to compete in April’s draft.
As for Shelton, his absence will leave the Lions shorthanded at defensive tackle. Shelton is a talented veteran who will almost certainly land on his feet with a team that values a big, run stuffer in the middle of their defense. However, the Lions are looking to bolster their interior pass rush and get a bit faster all across the defense. Additionally, they have last year’s sixth-round pick, John Penisini, who looked up to the part when forced into the lineup as a rookie nose tackle. So if the new coaching staff feels the need to have a nose tackle in some formations, Penisini is the more economical option.
The Lions may not be done cutting players at the defensive tackle position. While the Lions are likely to value a guy like Nick Williams more than the previous regime, his bulky $5.25 million cap hit can be cleared to save $4 million in cap space if released. If the Lions go that route, expect them to be active searching for defensive tackle depth.
UPDATE: Like Joe Dahl, Danny Shelton’s release was given with “failed physical” designation.