Johnson Bademosi was still on the field late Thursday night in the fourth preseason game against Buffalo. Typically, that’s a bad sign for a player who was thought to have a good hold on a roster spot.
Combine that with the Detroit Lions' logjam of talented cornerbacks, and it meant the special-teams ace would likely be available at the right cost. And hours before the NFL’s cut deadline, Detroit found a taker in a familiar trade partner -- New England -- as first reported by the Detroit Free Press.
Dealing Bademosi only makes sense for the Lions because of what else they have on the roster. D.J. Hayden's emergence this preseason as a capable backup both in the slot and on the outside meant Bademosi was likely going to be no higher than the No. 4 corner on the roster. Considering Detroit also has two rookies they will be hanging onto -- including second-round pick Teez Tabor -- it made sense for the Lions to shop a player who had value on special teams.
And make no mistake, Bademosi is a valuable special-teams player. It’s why Detroit wanted to sign him from Cleveland last year. He is one of the elite special teams players in the NFL. But there was somewhat of a crowd there on Detroit’s roster, something that might come into clearer focus as the Lions’ roster is set.
Trading Bademosi also gave Detroit an extra draft pick -- a sixth-rounder in 2019, according to ESPN Insider Adam Schefter -- something the franchise values. In the past week, they’ve made two moves for 2019 picks, including trading Laken Tomlinson to San Francisco for a fifth-round pick.
As far as how the Lions replace Bademosi on special teams, the biggest question will be at gunner on punt coverage. Detroit has Quandre Diggs, Nevin Lawson, TJ Jones and, should he survive cuts, Don Carey as players who can handle that job. They also have some other budding special teams value players depending how the roster shakes out.
That the move will clear over $1 million off the team’s salary cap for this season is another benefit for Detroit making a move on a player who was clearly on the roster bubble to begin with.