The Lions will save $6 million in cap space by releasing safety Louis Delmas. (Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)
Allen Park — It was Black Thursday at the Lions’ practice facility as the Lions scrambled to get their 2014 payroll under the salary cap.
Minutes after confirming the release of receiver Nate Burleson, the team also announced it had released safety Louis Delmas. The two moves lopped $11.5 million off the team’s cap number — $5.5 million from Burleson and $6 million from Delmas — and put them in position to be active on the free agent market come March 11.
Delmas, the second draft pick of the Jim Schwartz era in 2009, saw his effectiveness wane due to knee injuries. From the end of 2010 through 2012, he had surgery on both knees and continued to struggle with tendinitis even as he managed to play all 16 games and 98 percent of the defensive snaps this past season.
He hadn’t been able to practice regularly since 2010.
Still, when new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin met the media last week, he cited Delmas as one of the “difference-makers” on defense. And Burleson, talking on 105.1 FM on Thursday said he was shocked Delmas was released.
“I can’t see why they would release Louis Delmas,” Burleson said. “He’s a big-time player.”
The Lions, as they did last season, have apparently left the door open for Delmas’ return. Before he signed a two-year deal worth $7.7 million before last season, the Lions allowed Delmas to test free agency.
He made several visits but ultimately came back to Detroit. He could do the same this time, though at a reduced rate.
Delmas did have a statistically productive year with 64 tackles, two sacks and career-highs in interceptions (two) and pass breakups (nine). But he was inconsistent, and the stress he put on fellow safety Glover Quin by not being able to practice led to a lot of miscommunication and ultimately big plays against the defense.
The Lions would have had to pay Delmas a $500,000 bonus if he was still on the roster March 15.
With the release of Burleson and Delmas, the Lions’ have roughly $121 million committed to the 2014 salary cap. The cap is expected to be close to $126 million.