The Detroit Lions have taken on the pain of dead cap dollars in their rebuild, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
The firing of head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn in November of 2020 fully set the Detroit Lions on a rebuilding path. Quite frankly general manager Brad Holmes had a mess to clean up, and quarterback Matthew Stafford wanted no part of a rebuild in this late stage of his career.
Trading Stafford to Rams had financial implications for the Lions, in dead money and taking on Jared Goff’s contract in return. Parting ways with mistakes of the “Quinntricia” era, including cutting Trey Flowers this offseason, left behind chunks of dead money.
Per Warren Sharp of Sharp Football, the Lions carried the fourth-highest total of dead money in the NFL over the last three years ($111 million), including $67 million in dead money just in 2021. For 2022, via Sharp, they’re down to the 14th-most dead money ($20.3 million, according to Over The Cap).
Detroit Lions are emerging from dead cap purgatory
Justin Rogers of The Detroit News said it perfectly in his sub-tweet of Sharp’s tweet, calling “Patriots Way” a one-way street that’s expensive to emerge from.
Of that approximately $20 million in dead money this year, according to Over The Cap, $12.1 million of that is the dead money that came from cutting Flowers. Of the remaining $8 million or so, $6.3 million is left behind by last season’s release of linebacker Jamie Collins, another former Patriot.
Currently, via Over The Cap, the Lions have no dead money on the books for 2023 with 32 players under contract (pending the further signings of this year’s draft picks). Possible decisions to part ways with Jared Goff, Michael Brockers and/or some others next offseason would leave some dead money behind, so that zero is likely to change to something.
But it won’t be anything like 2021’s $67 million in dead money, and possibly not close to this year’s $20 million. So there’s light at the end of the financial tunnel for the Lions, as the residue of the ill-conceived plan from the previous head coach and general manager fades away.
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