4. DE Charles Harris
Harris was a real bright spot for the Lions upon arriving in 2021, as he led the team that season with 7.5 sacks and also rescued his career from careening all the way into first-round draft pick bust territory. He was rewarded for that breakthrough last offseason with a two-year, $13 million deal to stay in Detroit.
Harris was not particularly productive early this season, with one sack in the first four games. Then missed five of the next seven games with a groin injury and he barely played in the two games he did suit up for (24 total snaps). He finally landed on IR due that injury heading into Week 13, and he did not play again this season.
The quick emergence of rookie James Houston led the Lions to have to do something more drastic with Harris as his groin issue sidelined him, and putting him on IR opened up the active roster spot for Houston.
Harris carries a cap hit close to $8 million for 2023 ($7.998 million, to be exact, via Over The Cap). Cutting or trading him before June 1 just about evenly splits that cap hit between cap savings and dead money ($4.011 million in cap savings), with a post-June 1 cut declaration pushing that to $6 million in cap savings.
At its core, parting ways with Harris would not be about the finances of it. It’s truly about the fact he has been replaced, and the Lions have edge rusher depth beyond Houston and of course Aidan Hutchinson (Josh Paschal, Romeo Okwara, Julian Okwara). Harris’ role looking to next season is a big question. The Lions shouldn’t be paying a part time player who wasn’t particularly productive this year nearly $8 million.