Detroit Lions: 5 potential salary cap casualties heading into 2021

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions /

The Detroit Lions could save $2.5 million in salary cap space by releasing Christian Jones.

It had been somewhat surprising when Bob Quinn and the Detroit Lions decided to reward Christian Jones with a contract extension after his lackluster play.  Almost what felt like seconds after signing the deal, Jones began to really start showing up on tape, and not in a good way.

Like many Lions’ linebackers, Jones struggles to defend the pass and doesn’t fare much better trying to stop the run.

According to PFF, Jones produced an overall grade of 45.7 in 2020, yikes.  That overall grade includes a 52.5 mark defending the run and just 33.4 against the pass.  Jones has yielded an 80% catch rate throughout his career and never earned an overall grade better than 65, but always seems to settle in the 50s or even 40s like the last two seasons.

Jones played over 500 defensive snaps in each of the last three seasons, but as his defensive grades prove, he’s not being utilized correctly.  Jones is more of a special teams player and depth linebacker coming off of the bench in relief if he’s forced into duty.

The Lions can use a draft pick later in the draft to fill these types of roles.  Detroit doesn’t possess a sixth or seventh-round selection in 2021, so they should be inclined to sign a few athletic undrafted free agents after the draft to fill that void.

Through seven seasons, Jones has accumulated 315 solo tackles, 79 assists while missing 32. He’s amassed eight sacks.  Jones has yet to intercept a pass but has allowed ten passing touchdowns during his career.