According to a report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Detroit Lions are planning to release linebacker Christian Jones. UDPATE: The Detroit Lions have now confirmed this.
Jones had been a prominent contributor under head coach Matt Patricia after the team acquired him in free agency back in 2018. In fact, in the middle of the 2019 season, the Lions handed him a two-year extension, preventing him from hitting free agency last year.
However, the actual efficiency of his play during his time in Detroit was hotly debated. He earned PFF grades of just 45.5 and 45.7 in the past two seasons and was specifically a vulnerability in coverage while providing little pass rush (3.0 sacks in three seasons).
The move is expected to clear up over $2.5 million in cap space while also taking up nearly $2.2 million in dead cap. Some of that is due to bonus money accelerated from a self-voiding year that was added in the extension.
The Lions also announced that backup offensive lineman Russell Bodine has been released. Bodine was on a veteran minimum salary ($990,000) that was only partially counted against the cap due to the veteran salary benefit. The minimal cap space they will be creating with that move ($850,000) will be replaced by a similar contract already on the roster, but not currently included in the top 51—which are the only contracts that count against the salary cap once the new league year starts. In other words, there is no significant cap relief with this move.
Bodine opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID concerns but was considered decent depth with starting experience, specifically as center.
Combining Jones’ release with the reported release of Desmond Trufant and the contract restructure of Jamie Collins Sr. (the details of which still remain unclear), the Lions have likely created at least $15 million in cap space for the 2021 season. However, more moves are still to be expected before the new league year on March