Allen Park — A day after reaching an agreement on a three-year deal with linebacker Jamie Collins, and reportedly gauging interest of the trade market, the Detroit Lions parted ways with Devon Kennard on Tuesday.
Kennard shared a farewell message via Twitter after the transaction was announced.
"My goal in life is to always leave a place better then I found it," Kennard wrote. "I believe I did that in Detroit with the (Lions). Thank you to my teammates, coaches, the support staff and fans that made my experience in Detroit one that I will cherish forever."
A two-year captain, Kennard set and matched his career-high with seven sacks in each of his two seasons with the Lions. Playing in 31 of 32 games during that stretch, he was on the field more than 80% of Detroit's defensive snaps each season.
Still, the Lions didn't get enough out of their pass rush each of the past two years, ranking near the bottom of the NFL in sacks and quarterback pressures in 2019.
One of the team's top free-agent targets in 2018, coinciding with the arrival of coach Matt Patricia, Kennard was awarded a three-year, $17 million contract. By cutting him before the final year of the deal, the Lions will save $5.7 million in cap space.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn, along with Patricia, released a rare joint statement following the move, thanking Kennard for his contributions.
"From the day he joined the organization in 2018, Devon exhibited an outstanding level of professionalism on and off the field," the statement said. "We would like to thank Devon for his contributions to the Lions organization over the last two years and wish him and his family the very best in the future."
In addition to being a steady performer on the field, Kennard was recognized for his work in the community. He was named the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee in 2019 for his efforts helping the franchise launch its social justice initiative, as well as his work with the Midnight Golf Program, which helps under-served youth transitioning from high school to college and into a professional career through mentoring and skill building.
Lions cut two
The Lions announced the release of quarterback Kyle Sloter and safety A.J. Howard. Both players joined the team late last season and neither played a down.
Sloter served as the team's backup quarterback down the stretch, following a season-ending injury to Jeff Driskel. Meanwhile, Howard was on the practice squad the final game of the regular season and signed a futures deal after the season ended.