Detroit Lions unlikely to pursue 'creative' way to add cap space

The Detroit Lions aren't desperate for cap space, and even if they were a 'creative' way to create some feels unlikely to be on their radar.
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

After four years as a persistently depreciated asset playing for the Chicago Bears, David Montgomery landed in easily the best situation of his career when he signed with the Detroit Lions in 2023. A fan of another division rival may think he's "just a guy", but Montgomery was a top-10 rusher in the league last year (1,015 yards) and his 13 touchdowns on the ground were tied for fifth in the league.

There's all kinds of buzz around Jahmyr Gibbs, rightfully so, with the expectation he'll build on his nice rookie campaign with a bigger workload. That leaves Montgomery as the forgotten man in the Lions' backfield tandem, and in the Detroit offense overall if we get right down to it.

But even if/when the balance of carries shifts toward Gibbs for the full season this year, Montgomery should still have a noticeable and valuable role in one of the league's best offense.

Lions unlikely to pursue a 'creative' way to clear cap space

Bleacher Report recently looked at the three "most creative" ways each NFL team can clear salary cap space right now. For the Lions two were easy, extending left tackle Taylor Decker and releasing defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike. The other way, actually second on the list behind extending Decker, was restructuring Montgomery's contract.

"Detroit doesn't desperately need to create cap space right now, but if that changes, restructuring David Montgomery's deal could be an option. The standout running back is under contract through 2025, but his $5.3 million base salary could be reduced."

Montgomery signed a three-year deal with the Lions last offseason. But as a practical matter it's a two-year commitment, with the contract voiding on Feb. 10, 2025 (according to Over The Cap). 2026 was tacked on as a more typical void year to spread out the cap hit of his signing bonus.

Via Over The Cap, restructuring Montgomery's contract would clear $2.75 million in cap space this year. That hardly seems worth it, when cap space is not at all an issue for the Lions. His $5.25 million base salary may feel a little high, but it's not excessive. To be frank, a trade to a team that loses a running back before Week 1 feels more likely than restructuring his contract. A trade isn't happening unless the Lions got an offer they just couldn't turn down, and while Montgomery still has some good years left a team isn't going to do that for a 27-year old running back.

Montgomery's future in Detroit is set to be a conversation as the 2024 season goes on. But restructuring his contract for an amount of cap space that amounts to a drop in the bucket is not all that creative, nor does it make much sense.

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