4 players the Detroit Lions may release to create additional cap space

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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Detroit Lions, Will Harris
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Lions should consider releasing Will Harris.

This season, the Detroit Lions could and should move on from Will Harris, saving $2.54 million against the cap.  Harris’ current deal carries a dead cap figure of just $238,061 in 2022.

Harris, a former third-round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft, has failed to live up to his draft hype.  The 26-year old safety had been expected to excel paired with another third-round pick, Tracy Walker, who had been selected just a year prior.  Both safeties have endured their share of struggles, but Walker elevated his game in a contract year this past season and became a reliable asset on the backend.

Walker led the Detroit Lions with 108 total tackles.  It was the second time Walker eclipsed the 100 tackle plateau over his four-year career.  Walker is a candidate to be retained by the organization but will need an upgraded running mate in 2022.  If Walker elects to sign elsewhere, it will put the Lions in an unfortunate situation needing to find two starting safties this offseason via free agency or the NFL Draft.

Harris constantly found himself overmatched while playing as a safety, often being burnt in man coverage trying to guard the bigger and more physically tight ends.  Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn moved Harris to the slot corner position primarily out of necessity due to a string of injuries to the teams’ cornerbacks.  Harris didn’t perform well as a corner but seemed to fare better than he did as a safety.

According to Pro Football Focus, Harris earned a dreadful overall grade of 41.0 for his work in 2021.  That atrocious grade also includes a hideous coverage mark of 39.6 and a 51.6 mark defending the run.  There isn’t anything good to take out of these marks, PFF is not fond of Harris, and the evaluators have detected the same characteristics in Harris’ game as we, the fans.

I don’t see a role for Harris in Detroit moving forward unless the organization cannot retain Walker, add a free agent or draft a safety.  Harris may benefit by getting a fresh start elsewhere, but it hasn’t worked in Detroit.