Every year, on the precipice of the NFL's annual free agency frenzy that begins in March, some big-name veteran players get their walking papers. Sometimes it's a fit in the system issue, other times it's an injury thing, but mostly it revolves around money. The latter two pertain to the situation with wide receiver Nate Burleson and the Detroit Lions.
Word leaked on Thursday that the Lions are going to cut ties with the veteran wideout, shedding $5.5 million from their books. He was in his fourth year with the club after joining early on in Jim Schwartz's attempt at rebuilding the team. He suffered major injuries the past two seasons and wasn't able to contribute nearly as much as he did his first two seasons with Detroit.
Also being released by the Lions is veteran safety Louis Delmas. He was a former second round pick and re-signed a new deal with the club this offseason. Though he battled some nagging injuries over the past few seasons, he was a relatively effective starter when in the lineup.
It might not be a coincidence that Burleson and Delmas are out in the same offseason that Schwartz was shown the door. Jim Caldwell has taken over as the head man and may be looking to get younger and mold his team like the Colts of the late 2000s. Burleson has been a relatively productive receiver in his eleven seasons and still may have a couple more years in the tank. he could be a good fit for a team looking for some depth at wide receiver, probably at the No.2 or No.3 spots. He also has been a good locker room guy and that always works in a player's favor.
Regardless, Burleson won't be in Detroit and it's highly unlikely that he will be making anywhere near his $5.5 million per year cap hit, but he thinks he can still contribute somewhere. The wide receiver reflected on his time in Detroit and notes that it will be hard to say goodbye:
"There’s a few things on the table on and off the field, so I don’t think it actually hit me yet," Burleson said. "Maybe when I see them boys playing or I see C.J. make a big play or something like that, or my guys celebrating, that’s when it might hit me a little bit more. But at this point, I’ve got to get moving. I’ve got to figure out my next step and, for me, it’s trying to figure out what jersey I’m going to be in next year and go from there.
"It’s tough, though, because the city is great for me. ... I’m going to miss the people in the city, definitely am, because they were incredible. It’s a very unique place and, like I said before, I never had any ties to Michigan before I signed there. And after spending four years there, I feel like that’s a place I can go anytime."