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How Lions Can Add $21 Million in Cap Space in 2024

Four roster moves Lions can make to create cap space.

The NFL offseason is always a challenging time for executives and decision makers. 

As teams begin to build their pursuits of a title in 2024, tough decisions will have to be made with regards to their current rosters. In the case of the Detroit Lions, general manager Brad Holmes currently has around $48 million in effective cap space ahead of free agency. 

However, he can increase that number by releasing players prior to the March 13 start of free agency. Detroit's roster has been built with players who fit its culture, so cap casualty decisions will be tough ones to make for Holmes and company. 

Time will tell what direction the Lions elect to take this offseason when it comes to free agency and roster construction. However, if they elect to spend big on the open market, there are ways for the team to create more cap space. 

After analyzing Detroit's salary cap situation ahead of the offseason, the organization can make four roster moves to create an extra $21 million in cap space. 

Two veteran players who carry big potential cap savings are offensive tackle Taylor Decker and safety Tracy Walker III. If both players were released, the Lions would create $15.3 million in cap space. 

Decker and Walker are second and third, respectively, in cap hit for 2024 behind quarterback Jared Goff

In the case of Decker, this is admittedly highly unlikely. He has been the franchise mainstay protecting Goff's blindside as the left tackle and is viewed as one of the biggest leaders in the locker room. 

Walker, meanwhile, was relegated to a bench and special teams role and later a healthy scratch at the end of last season. He started six games this season but the team moved on to Ifeatu Melifonwu late in the year, and Melifonwu made a compelling case to be a starter in the secondary next season. 

Elsewhere, a pair of defensive line moves could carve out additional cap space. Defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike has had an underwhelming start to his career after being a 2021 second-round pick. A decision to part ways with the Washington product this offseason would generate just under $1.8 million in cap savings. 

Onwuzurike still has potential to be an impact player for the Lions, so he may be a tough player to move on from. However, he was a healthy scratch at points and played in just 10 regular season games. 

With Brodric Martin continuing to develop and Alim McNeill reaching star potential, the Lions could elect to move on. Yet, he did show flashes in his limited snaps that would suggest growth coming in 2024. 

Defensive end John Cominsky is another player who carries potential cap savings. If the Lions were to part ways with Cominsky, it would free up $4.5 million. 

Cominsky's production dipped in 2023, as his sack total went from four in 2022 to two in 2023. He also had his totals in tackles and tackles for loss drop. 

If the Lions decide to make a big move in free agency or need to clear more money for extensions, these four moves give them the opportunity to do so. 

However, all four are big parts of the team's culture and would make decisions like this extremely difficult. How Holmes and the Lions' brass navigate this offseason from a salary cap perspective will be fascinating.