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Lions trade Akeem Spence to Dolphins for 2019 draft pick

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Akeem Spence

Allen Park — The Detroit Lions have traded defensive tackle Akeem Spence to the Miami Dolphins for a 2019 seventh-round draft pick.

It had been reported on Thursday morning that Spence had agreed to a pay cut, a $500,000 reduction in his base salary for the upcoming season. It’s now clear this salary reduction facilitated the deal.

Spence would have been entering his second season with the Lions after signing a three-year, $9 million contract last offseason. But with the team’s upcoming switch from an attacking defensive front to a focus on gap control, the 26-year-old lineman’s skill set was no longer a fit.

The trade will reunite Spence with Kris Kocurek, the longtime Lions defensive line coach who is working in the same role in Miami.

"I want to thank the Detroit Lions for the opportunity they gave me this past season to be a Lion," Spence tweeted. "Also want to thank my coaches,teammates and the fans it was a great experience. We all know NFL is a business. With that being said happy to be a Miami Dolphin...!!! Gods plan!!!"

In his one season with the Lions, Spence appeared in all 16 games, starting 11. He recorded 39 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble. Among defensive linemen, only A'Shawn Robinson and Anthony Zettel played more snaps than Spence last season.

More: Lions mailbag: Which back is running out of time?

The Lions will still be on the hook for a $1.5 million cap hit, the remaining portion of Spence’s $2.25 million signing bonus. Still, the pay cut and trade clears more than $2 million in cap space this year and closer to $3.5 in 2019.

The trade gives the Lions nine picks in next year’s draft. The team traded away its third-rounder in 2019 for a fourth-round selection this year -- used to add Alabama’s Da’Shawn Hand – but acquired an extra fifth-, sixth- and seventh-round choice by dealing away Laken Tomlinson, Johnson Bademosi and Spence.