A day after the New Orleans Saints got the NFL's season of cuts off to a roaring start, the Detroit Lions have reportedly decided to add a significant name of their own to the mix by releasing veteran wide receiver Nate Burleson.
Burleson had been in Detroit since 2010, when he was signed early in the free agency period by a team badly in need of offensive weaponry in the wake of a complete roster overhaul. Burleson took a chance on Detroit, had on-field success, quickly became immersed in the city and community and will now have the difficult task of abruptly picking up and leaving.
The move was all about business and finances from a Lions perspective. Already short on a decent amount of salary cap space, Detroit needs room to maneuver under the cap, as they need to re-sign Joique Bell and many of their own free agents while still having the funds to make a few meaningful additions on the open market. Cutting Burleson saves Detroit around $5.5 million dollars toward next season's salary cap, and almost certainly means the Lions will be a player for multiple wide receiver additions this offseason.
As Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the man who first reported the move pointed out, while the move saves money and adds a degree of fiscal flexibility, it will leave the Lions short of a quality locker room leader. Burleson was always one of the top players with regards to media availability, and was long regarded as a respected, responsible teammate.
Last season, Burleson looked to be rejuvenated until a broken arm sustained as a result of a freak car accident kept him out of the lineup for the better part of the season. Prior to that, his best year in Detroit was 2011, when he collected 757 yards and three touchdowns. In total, the wide receiver collected an impressive 2,083 yards and 12 touchdowns after coming from Seattle in 2010.
Certainly, Burleson, one of the game's true good guys, will be missed around Ford Field's locker room and Allen Park's practice fields in Detroit.
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