Detroit Lions: Four free agents to replace Damon Harrison

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Lions
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /

It’s yet to be confirmed by the team, but all signs are pointing to Damon Harrison being released by the Detroit Lions very soon.

When the Detroit Lions do indeed release Damon Harrison, it will save the organization $6.7M in cap space this offseason.  Harrison does carry a $5M dead cap number that would take effect whether he is cut or retires.  Remember when Detroit added the extra year to Harrison’s deal back in August?  It’s $5M in money owed that wouldn’t need to be paid out.  His dead cap number in 2021 if he were to remain in Detroit would have been $2.5M.

The Detroit Lions are clearly in a rebuild mode, but I can’t help but wonder if the organization now wishes they re-tooled Darius Slay‘s contract last summer rather than Damon Harrison’s.

At the conclusion of last season, Harrison was teary-eyed as he sat in his locker, answering questions and pondered his NFL future.  He mentioned he played the majority of the season hurt, and he’s tired of always hurting.  I mean, we can’t blame the man.  It’s a violent sport, Harrison plays in the trenches where every single play is equivalent to a car wreck.

Not taking anything away from the other positions on the football field but take a cornerback, for example, sometimes they make a tackle or two a game, maybe getting targeted just a handful of times.  A defensive tackle is either shedding blocks trying to make a play in the run game or chasing down a scrambling quarterback.

Snacks made a great impression after being acquired from the New York Giants for just a fifth-round pick.  His impact was not nearly as impressive last season.  According to Pro Football Focus, Harrison only achieved an overall rating of 63.2.  His run defense was average at 66.7, but his pass rush compared to other plays at his position was below average coming in at 55.2.

Last season Harrison made 49 tackles, 35 of the solo fashion along with 2 sacks, and just 6 total quarterback hurries.

If the Detroit Lions do indeed move on from Damon Harrison, they plenty of work to do reshaping their defensive line.  A’Shawn Robinson is also expected to hit the open market, but cutting Harrison may persuade the Lions to retain Robinson.  This perhaps opens the door for a reunion with Mike Daniels in Detroit as well.  Even if the team retains, both the Detroit Lions will still be in the market to add.

Although I’d love the idea of signing Chris Jones, I don’t expect the Lions to spend between $90-$100 million total on another D-lineman this offseason understanding there are numerous positions to upgrade with just over $50M to spend.  BUT they DO HAVE the money do it. D.J. Reader, Gerald McCoy, and Leonard Williams are all options not mentioned in this article due to likely demanding significant money on the open market.

If Jones is an option, don’t mistake this, he IS the ONLY right answer, he’s a game wrecker, a pure superstar.  The Cheifs do plan on bringing him back, I’m not sure with Patrick Mahomes likely set to make 40M/year very soon.

That being said, here are four affordable free agents the Detroit Lions need to consider as they search for defensive line replacements that should all cost somewhere around $5M annually.