According to a report from Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit Lions and Michael Brockers have agreed to part ways in 2023. Brockers’ official release is expected on Friday. UPDATE: The Lions did indeed officially release Brockers on Friday.
This was an expected move from the Lions given how Brockers’ 2022 season played out. After starting the first five games of the season, Brockers was benched for essentially the rest of the year, as the Lions prioritized playing their young players. In 2023, Brockers was scheduled to be paid a $10 million base salary and cost nearly $14 million against the cap. By releasing him, they’ll get all $10 million of that cap relief, while still being on the hook for the $3.975 million prorated salary bonus.
While Brockers didn’t contribute much on the field in 2022, he was a critical part of their leadership on defense. When the Lions defense was struggling to the point where they were forced to fire defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant, Brockers became one of the lead voices in that locker room to rally the troops.
“I’m all about the team,” Brockers told the Detroit News last season. “I’m a team guy. Whatever I can do to help us win or to help us be better, that’s what I’ll do.”
Brockers’ influence eventually turned the team’s fortunes on defense. While he wasn’t physically out there on the field battling with his peers, his leadership clearly had some positive impact on performance, and down the stretch, the Lions defense massively improved.
The Lions acquired Brockers in 2021 by trading their 2023 seventh-round pick to the Rams. They immediately signed him to a three-year, $24 million deal. By cutting him free a year early, it essentially turns into a two-year, $14 million deal.
Going into 2023, the Lions will have a massive leadership role to fill.
UPDATE: The Lions released this joint statement from coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes:
“We would like to thank Michael Brockers for his leadership over the last two seasons. As one of our team captains in 2022, Brock’s veteran voice and presence were instrumental in helping guide and develop our young locker room. He is one of the true professionals of our game and we have the highest respect for him as a man. We wish him and his family well on their next chapter.”