https://sidelionreport.com/2021/02/0...ed-goff-trade/

Supposedly, the NFL will not set their salary cap lower than $175 million this year. For simplicityís sake, we will assume it is set at $175 million. Taking that salary cap number and subtracting it from a teamís payroll for the upcoming season gives you the amount of cap space they have.

One more thing to add, every team has something called a ďrollover.Ē Rollover is the amount of unused cap space by each team from the previous season. That unused cap space will boost the $175 million salary cap.

Letís break this down more. Hypothetically, team X had $30 million in cap space to spend during last yearís offseason. However, they only spent $20 million of that $30M. $10 million in unused cap space now gets added to this yearís salary cap. So, team X has a salary cap of $185 million, instead of the $175M set by the NFL.

Letís apply this to the Detroit Lions:

Salary Cap: $175 Million
Lions 2020 Rollover: $12.8 Million
Lions Salary Cap: $187.8 Million
Lions 2021 Payroll (Dead Cap included): $198.7 Million
Lions 2021 Cap Space: $187.8 Ė $198.7 = -$10.9 Million
*Numbers taken from Spotrac, *Numbers are rounded up to the nearest hundred thousand

Due to the $12.8 million rollover from the unused cap space in 2020, Lionsí salary cap is set at $187.8 million this year (12.8 +175 set amount by NFL). Subtracting that $187.8 salary cap to the teamís payroll of $198.7M puts Detroit at -$10.9 million in cap space.

Thatís an issue. If a team has a negative amount of money in cap space, they canít spend any money on players. A part of their payroll will need to be cleared out.

We also have to include the money that will be put aside to sign draft picks. According to Over the Cap, the Lions are projected to spend $7.3 million of cap space on their current pile of draft picks.

At the very least, newly acquired general manager Brad Holmes needs to clear $$18.2 million from the Lionsí payroll. $10.9 million to get out of the negative and $7.3 million to sign his draft picks in a few months.

How can he do that? A few options are available to Holmes.

The first? Restructuring of player contracts who are currently on the team. Outside of potential restructure, he can cut or trade players. Here is a guide on whom the Lions could cut or trade to free up money.

What to expect in the offseason

Personally, Iím expecting the Lions to clear up $33.5 million from their payroll by cutting or trading several players. Usually, cutting that amount of players doesnít happen, but circumstances this year might call for it.

By doing that, it would give Detroit $22.6 million in cap space for this offseason. Putting away $7.3M to sign their draft picks and $15.3M to spend on free agents.

Also, keep in mind that $33.5 million is a generous estimate, especially if there are a few players that Holmes might want to keep, regardless of savings. Remember that $18.2 million is the minimum amount he needs to clear, although that would leave Detroit with no money to spend on free agents. A realistic range would be anywhere from $24-$32 million cleared from their payroll.

So, what should you expect?

At least 4-5 players to be released or traded along with a quiet free agency.

Former general manager Bob Quinn had us accustomed to a few big contracts a year. However, with limits this year, it isnít plausible. Look for low risk-high reward signings and bargain deals due to connections with the coaching staff or city.

Thatís not to say itís impossible to go after some of the more notable (and expensive) free agents. They will just have to find their way around it.

And if Detroit decides to re-sign their pending big-name free agents (i.e., defensive end Romeo Okwara or wide receiver Kenny Golladay) or other teamís free agents, expect their new contracts to be heavily backloaded.

A backloaded contract is when the majority of the money in a playerís contract is placed in the last few years of that said contract. This is done to make a smaller cap hit in the first year, saving more money initially, but losing it later.

The issue with backloaded contracts is it hurts the long-term team-building strategy despite helping the short term. With the Lions heading into a rebuild, it doesnít seem like the most effective action they could make, which leads me back to the assumption of a quiet free agency.