Before you panic, there’s a perfectly good explanation for what I’m going to tell you, so please relax as you read the following words.
The Detroit Lions have released tight end Darren Fells and safety Dean Marlowe. The move was designed to make room for Detroit’s two waiver wire claims that were awarded: wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge and kicker Austin Seibert.
You’re likely now panicking because you’ve realized that the release of Darren Fells has left the Lions with exactly one tight end on the 53-man roster, and without Dean Marlowe the Lions’ safety group is terribly thin and without any veteran players.
But here’s likely why the Lions are doing this.
Many—ourselves included—believed the Lions would create these extra roster spots by placing a couple players on injured reserve. Quarterback Tim Boyle and defensive tackle Da’Shawn Hand appear to be the most likely candidates. However, because the Lions were awarded two waiver claims, the corresponding roster moves had to be made before 4 p.m. ET.
If the Lions want Boyle or Hand to be eligible to return to play this year, then need to be placed on injured reserve after today’s 4 p.m. ET deadline.
So why choose Fells and Marlowe? Well, they just so happen to be some of the older players on the roster who are not eligible to hit the waiver wire. Players with four or more years of experience in the NFL go straight to free agency, meaning anyone can sign them immediately. If the Lions chose a younger player, they would lose them if another team put in a claim.
It’s extremely likely that the Lions came to an agreement with both players saying will be re-signing them on Thursday once the injured reserve moves clear up those two extra spots.