With the Detroit Lions game against the Dallas Cowboys only a few hours away, the Lions made a few last-minute adjustments with their personnel, signing tight end Anthony Firkser to the 53-man roster, while also elevating veteran defenders EDGE Bruce Irvin and defensive lineman Tyson Alualu for the game.
- Waived CB Chase Lucas
- Waived LB Trevor Nowaske
- Activated and then waived FB Jason Cabinda
- Signed K Michael Badgley
- Signed TE Anthony Firkser
- Elevated EDGE Bruce Irvin for Week 17
- Elevated DL Tyson Alualu for Week 17
Some of these roster transactions may look a bit unusual on their own but there is logic behind each decision, so let’s break it down.
The Lions likely wanted to get veterans Irvin and Alualu onto this week’s roster, but with only two elevation spots allowed each week, they needed a third spot for Badgley. Because Badgley had already been elevated twice this season—leaving him with one elevation and two games remaining—it was only a matter of time before they needed to sign him to the active roster, so they pulled the trigger.
With tight end Brock Wright injured, and the Lions offense typically operating with three tight ends every week, they also needed to find a way to get Firkser onto the roster for this week's game.
Now, they could have simply elevated Firkser and signed either Irvin or Alualu to the active roster, but with potentially three defenders returning from injured reserve as soon as next week—C.J. Gardner-Johnson, James Houston, and Alim McNeill—the person signed to the active roster this week is in a vulnerable position, a potential cut to make room. And when debating between Firkser, Irvin, and Alulau, it appears more than likely that they believe Firkser would pass through waivers (which are required of all waived players now that the trade deadline has passed) easier than the veterans.
One additional note on elevations. This is Irvin’s third and final roster elevation of the season, and while that will mean he is ineligible to be elevated in the regular season finale, when the Lions enter the postseason, he will become eligible again.
So why did the Lions make their initial cuts on Thursday? Likely for two reasons.
First, they were in a position to activate Jason Cabina from injured reserve, and while they did release him, that was again to make room for Firkser and likely in preparation for the returning defenders. It’s possible that Cabinda returns to the Lions practice squad, in which case he would be eligible for game-day elevations.
Secondly, by releasing Lucas and Nowaske on Thursday, they were eligible to pass through waivers this week, instead of having to wait until after the weekend (like Cabinda). It was a strategic risk to try and sneak them through early, and while it worked with Lucas—who re-signed to the Lions practice squad—, Nowaske was claimed by the Arizona Cardinals.
While the roster gymnastics are done for this week, we could be in for a whole new set of maneuvers next week as the Lions potentially return three players and ready themselves for the playoffs.