3 teams quickly named as potential landing spots for former Lions safety Tracy Walker

After his release by the Detroit Lions, CBS Sports had named three teams as possible fits for Tracy Walker.

Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

It was not a surprising move, as he fallen into a inconsequential role and carried a $12.8 million cap hit for 2024. But the Detroit Lions released veteran safety Tracy Walker on Tuesday. The move, assuming a pre-June 1 designation, will clear $5.5 million in cap space and create $7.3 million in dead money for this year.

A third-round pick in 2018, Walker was one of the longest-tenured Lions' players. He was rewarded for a rebound season with a three-year, $25 million deal in 2022. But a torn Achilles' in Week 3 of that 2022 season derailed him.

While he made a speedy recovery and played all 17 games, it was a roller coaster for him. He was on the bench to start the season, then C.J. Gardner-Johnson's Week 2 torn pectoral led to him playing at least 69 percent of the Lions' defensive snaps in nine of the next 10 games. He was then benched in favor Ifeatu Melifonwu in Week 14, playing just four defensive snaps over the final five regular season games.

The final salvo to confirm Walker would not be a Lion in 2024 was his being inactive for all three playoff games.

That said, outside of his struggles/ups and downs this past season, Walker has shown himself to be a starting-caliber safety. In both of his seasons where he has started at least 10 games, he has topped 100 total tackles with at least six pass breakups.

Being further removed from his Achilles' tear, it was worth wondering if Walker had some trade value this offseason. But the Lions didn't seem to wait to explore that before releasing him.

Walker will get a head start on free agency though, and he's able to sign immediately since he was cut. It'll be interesting to see where he lands.

NFL rumors: 3 teams quickly named as potential fits for former Lions' safety Tracy Walker

Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports immediately named three teams who could be a fit for Walker as he explores his options-the Philadelphia Eagles, the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Jets.

Here's what Kerr wrote about each.

"The Eagles badly need help at safety with Kevin Byard likely a cap casualty if he doesn't agree to a restructure and rookie Sydney Brown ikely out for all of next season with a torn ACL. New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio prioritizes the safety position, but is Walker a fit?....the Eagles could use a box safety who finds the football. There could be a No. 3 safety role for Walker."

"The 49ers haven't named a defensive coordinator yet, but they could get younger at safety -- especially if they decide to move on from Tashaun Gipson. Walker just turned 29, and the 49ers will have Talanoa Hufanga back, along with Ji'Ayir Brown ready to take over a starting role."

"This would be a good No. 3 safety role for Walker, especially since the 49ers could use a seasoned veteran. Of course, they have to find a defensive coordinator first."

"The Jets will need to find a starting safety if Jordan Whitehead does not return. Chuck Clark is also a free agent, so the Jets may need to revamp the entire position."

"With Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed at cornerback, the safety job in New York is ideal for anyone. The Jets need a box safety and Walker could start again and fill that void. He'd be a more cost efficient option, too."

Among these three potential suitors, and all three land comfortably on an early list, the Jets and Eagles stand out with the clearest possible path to a starting job for Walker. And he should see himself as a starter, such as the market may bring an opportunity.

His ending in Detroit was not ideal, but Walker should have some good years left in his career. Finding a new team should similarly not be too tough.

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