The Detroit Lions cut 27 players, moved two players to injured lists, two players to suspended lists and traded cornerback Johnson Bademosi, trimming their roster to the NFL-mandated 53 players. Here’s a closer look at the final moves:
Most significant move: Antwione Williams entered training camp looking like the team’s No. 3 linebacker and the starter at SAM in base sets. A month later, he’s out of a job. Williams played a lot in the fourth preseason game -- more than any other potential starter -- and that was the first clue something was amiss. Williams was still Detroit’s most surprising cut over the past two days because he was a Bob Quinn draft pick who also had good special-teams value.
Back-end skill-position moves mildly surprising: Much like last year, when it was a surprise Detroit stuck with only four receivers despite running a bunch of three-receiver sets, the Lions went with only three tight ends on this initial roster despite having a plan of using two tight ends more often. Keeping four receivers was a risk last year that mostly paid off, and it will be a risk this season. Cutting Jace Billingsley -- the team’s leading preseason receiver this year -- was a tight one, but the Lions kept TJ Jones and Jared Abbrederis instead. Tion Green ended up on the initial 53-man roster as the No. 5 running back after gaining 150 all-purpose yards Thursday against Buffalo.
Moves for picks: This seemed more common across the league this year, but the Lions picked up another 2019 draft pick by trade Saturday when they dealt Bademosi to New England for a sixth-round pick. Bademosi is a special-teams standout who was pushed pretty far down the cornerback depth chart. With a bunch of talented players at the position, the Lions had to have it shake out somehow. They managed it by getting something in return (and opening up some cap space).
Special teams rules: When Lions coach Jim Caldwell said that special teams mattered when it came to the final roster spots, he wasn’t joking. Of the roster-bubble guys that were kept, all have high special-teams value: Abbrederis, Green, linebackers Nick Bellore and Steve Longa and safety Charles Washington. All five could – and should – be core special-teams player this year.
Waived (23):, QB Brad Kaaya, WR Michael Rector, WR Noel Thomas, WR Dontez Ford, WR Jace Billingsley, TE Cole Wick, TE Robert Tonyan, TE Scott Orndoff, TE Khari Lee, OL Leo Koloamatangi, OL Connor Bozick, OT Storm Norton, DE Giorgio Newberry, DE Pat O’Connor, DT Caushaud Lyons, DT Derrick Lott, DT Ego Ferguson, LB Antwione Williams, LB Thurston Armbrister, CB Josh Thornton, CB Adairius Barnes, S Alex Carter, S Rolan Milligan.
Waived/injured (2): CB Tramain Jacobs, WR Dez Stewart.
Physically unable to perform list (1): OT Taylor Decker
Non-football injury list (1): P Sam Martin