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Lions enter 2019 offseason with estimated $36 million in cap space

Last week, Lions Wire ranked the 15 biggest needs on the Detroit Lions roster heading into the 2019 offseason. The logical next question is how much money will general manager Bob Quinn, coach Matt Patricia and new salary cap guru Mike Disner have to work with to fill those needs?

Over the next two days, I’m going to try to answer that question. Today, I’ll look at where the Lions salary cap currently stands. Then tomorrow I’ll break out my trusty Yellow Legal Pad and figure out how the Lions may allocate those dollars between their current free agents, their draft class and, of course, free agency.

Let’s start with the basics. The 2019 salary cap is expanding to an estimated range of $187 and $191.1 million. That’s not a hard ceiling because teams can rollover any unused cap space from the previous season. The Lions will have a little over $5 million in 2018 carryover according to OvertheCap.

That means the Lions should have approximately $196 million to spend in 2019. That’s our starting point.

Unfortunately, much of that $196 million is already spent. As described in our the Lions Wire: January 2019 Roster Stack, the Lions currently have 54 players under contract for next season. Over The Cap puts their salaries, rounding up, at around $160 million.

That gives the Lions approximately $36 million in salary cap space as of today, good for 17th in the league.

So what kind of roster does that $160 million pay for? Here are the players currently under contract for 2019:

  • Quarterback (2): Matthew Stafford, Conner Cook
  • Running back (5): Kerryon Johnson, Theo Riddick, Nick Bawden (fullback), Mark Thompson, Kerwynn Williams
  • Wide receiver (6) Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Jr., Brandon Powell, Andy Jones, Chris Lacy, Deontez Alexander
  • Tight end (2): Michael Roberts and Jerome Cunningham
  • Offensive line (10): Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Graham Glasgow, TJ Lang, Rick Wagner, Kenny Wiggins, Joe Dahl, Tyrell Crosby, Leo Koloamatangi, Jarron Jones
  • Defensive line (6): Damon Harrison, A’Shawn Robinson, Da’Shawn Hand, John Atkins, Eric Lee, Jonathan Wynn
  • Linebacker (8): Devon Kennard, Jarrad Davis, Christian Jones, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Trevor Bates, Nicholas Grigsby, Miles Killebrew, Garret Dooley
  • Cornerback (7): Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson, Jamal Agnew, Teez Tabor, Mike Ford, Dee Virgin, Andre Chachere
  • Safety (5) Glover Quin, Quande Diggs, Tracy Walker, Tavon Wilson, David Jones
  • Kicker (1): Matt Prater
  • Punter (2): Sam Martin, Ryan Santoso

Of course, not all of these 54 players are likely to make the team come next September, and releasing or trading them keeps the amount of cap space that the Lions have to play with flexible.

Tomorrow, I’ll break out the Yellow Legal Pad and take a closer look at how the Lions may spend their $36 million (or more) during the 2019 off-season.

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