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Financial impact of the Detroit Lions’ initial roster cuts

GM Brad Holmes gains some cap space after a few roster moves.

AP

The Detroit Lions made nine roster moves on Monday as the team widdles the roster down to 53 players—you can keep up with the latest updates in our tracker. In those initial moves, the Lions cut three players who had a 2021 salary cap hit among the top-25 players on the roster, and as you would expect with players making a higher than average amount of money, those cuts came with some financial implications.

In this piece, we will take a closer look at the nine players removed from the roster today and see how they impacted the salary cap. (Note: all numbers were cross-checked via OverTheCap.com)

Of the nine players released/waived, five of them—Victor Bolden, Damion Ratley, Dan Skipper, Miles Brown, and Alijah Holder—were not owed any guaranteed money, meaning they did not have a signing bonus, guarantees in their base salary, or incentives. Their entire salary cap hit comes off the books and the Lions incur no cap penalties.

The remaining four each did have guaranteed money on their contracts and therefore the Lions will incur a cap penalty for releasing/waiving them before their contract expired. Here’s what those numbers look like:

Breshad Perriman: $2 million
Mike Ford: $400,000
Tyrell Crosby: $71,921
Evan Heim: $3,000

Total cap penalty: just under $2.5 million

Now for the good news. While the Lions will have nearly $2.5 in dead money, they are also saving money by gaining back the remaining unguaranteed salaries. Only Crosby’s contract gives the Lions back more than $1 million on its own—$2.183 million to be exact—but in total, the Lions gain just over $8.2M in physical savings.

Now, not all of the $8.2M comes off the salary cap because of how it’s structured, only factoring in the team’s top-51 contracts for that season. For example, Holder’s entire $780,00 comes off the books, but because it was not among the top-51 contracts, the Lions gain no cap relief by waiving him.

Additionally, as one contract comes off the top-51, another is added, so at times the gained cap relief is minimal. For example, if Player A making $920,000 is removed from the top-51, and Player B making $850,000 is added, the team only gains $70,000 in new cap space by releasing Player A.

With this in mind, the Lions were able to gain some cap space because Perriman, Ford, Crosby, and Ratley’s contracts were all factored into the top-51 contracts, and their removal gained the Lions just over $3.7 M in cap space among the top-51.

To find the amount of new cap space, take the space gained among the top-51 ($3.7 M) and subtract any penalties (roughly $2.5) to arrive at just over $1.2 M in new cap space gained.

As the remaining cuts come in on Tuesday that number is likely to grow, though not likely by much as most of those roster moves will be made on players outside the top-51.

At this time, with the new space accounted for, the Lions currently have around $17.5 M in available cap space, which is the eighth-most in the NFL. The Lions will allocate some of these available funds for their practice squad, they will also have to use some on players that land on injured reserve, as well as use some on players they sign throughout the season. Whatever remains will be rolled over into next season and used for year two of the rebuild.