On Friday, the Detroit Lions announced they were releasing guard T.J. Lang, freeing up roughly $9 million in cap space. Two days later, news broke that the Lions are also releasing cornerback Nevin Lawson, which gives them another $4 million plus off the books as they head into free agency.
With those two moves, the Lions now have $45 million in cap space as they look to fill some holes on their roster prior to the 2019 NFL Draft. As Eric Schlitt of Lions Wire notes, after factoring in some cash for the 2019 draft class and a cushion/rainy day fund, Lions GM Bob Quinn will have around $35 million to play with in free agency.
If the Lawson release is accurate, the Lions should have just north of $45 M in salary cap room
Factoring in the projected contracts for 2019 draft class = just over $41 M
Depending on how much BQ keeps for a in-season cushion, the Lions could comfortably spend up to $35 M
— Erik Schlitt (@erikschlitt) March 10, 2019
But that being said, the Lions could free up even more money if they want to before the free agency period begins this coming Wednesday.
Here are four players currently under contract who could potentially be released by the Lions within the next few days.
Theo Riddick (RB)
Money saved if released: $3.662 million
Heading into the offseason, I figured the Lions would be in the market for a No. 2 running back. That being said, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press has reported the Lions want Zach Zenner to fill that role. This makes things interesting because the question now becomes, what does Bob Quinn decide to do with Theo Riddick? Riddick has proven how valuable he can be as a third down back, but will that be enough to justify his contract? Personally, I would be 100% fine with moving on from Theo and drafting a running back in the middle rounds of the draft.
Kenny Wiggins (OL)
Now that we know T.J. Lang will not be back for the 2019 season, some may think Kenny Wiggins roster spot is safe because of pure numbers. That being said, if the Lions were to unload him before Wednesday, they would likely be able to find a similar offensive lineman for less money. I am all about moving on to free up another $2.75 million.
Money saved if released: $2.75 million
Tavon Wilson (DB)
With Glover Quin gone, the Lions are currently set up to start Quandre Diggs and Tracy Walker at the safety positions with Wilson playing a backup role. If the Lions are serious about going after Landon Collins, saving nearly $3 million by releasing Wilson is a no-brainer.
Money saved if released: $2,903,125
Sam Martin (P)
Money saved if released: $2 million
This one may surprise you and to be honest, I too would be surprised if the Lions cut Sam Martin in favor of going with Ryan Santoso as their punter. But, if it comes down to it and Bob Quinn feels he needs an extra couple million to sign an impact free agent, Martin could be a cap casualty.