The Draft - During the College draft, the Lions drafted 9 total players. Until they sign a contract, they are exempt from the 80 player roster maximum. For salary cap purposes, they count $295,000 against the cap (the league minimum for players with no NFL experience). Under the rules of the CBA, until the 1st regular season game, the top 51 player salaries count against the cap and in the Lions case, the minimum salaries will not effect the Lions cap status. Typically, the Lions begin signing their rookie draft picks in late June or early July, with Dizon and Cherilus likely to be signed just before the start of training camp in mid to late July. The following players were drafted by the Lions, don't occupy a roster spot and count $295,000 against the salary cap.
After the draft, the Lions made a couple of Roster moves, by releasing Ben Noll, signing Artose Pinner and releasing Derek Morris.
Ben Noll - Noll spent the entire 2007 season on the Lions practice squad, signed a two year contract on 01/01/08 and was officially released on 04/28/08. The contract was for the league minimum and did not include a signing bonus. Therefore, the Lions will have no dead cap or any other salary cap consequences associated with Noll's release.
Artose Pinner - Pinner was originally drafted by the Lions in the 4th round of the 2003 draft and was waived by Marinelli before the start of the 2006 season. On April 30th, Pinner signed a one-year contract for $605,000. No other financial details were disclosed. Pinner signed for the league minimum for players with four accrued seasons, likely had no signing bonus and his contract will qualify for veteran minimum treatment with the NFLPA subsidizing $160,000 of his contract. Pinner's current year cap cost is $445,000.
Derek Morris - Morris was signed to a two-year contract on 01/01/08 and was officially released on 05/02/08. The contract was for the league minimum and did not include a signing bonus. Therefore, the Lions will have no dead cap or any other salary cap consequences associated with Morris' release.
Undrafted Free Agents - College players that are not selected in the NFL draft are designated as Undrafted Free Agents (UDFA). They are free to negotiate a player contract with any NFL team. The Lions have signed several UDFA's. These players likely signed a three year contract for the league minimum and received a small signing bonus (likely less than $10,000, but some UDFA's can command a larger amount if enough teams are interested). The following UDFA's signed a contract with the Lions in the days following the draft. None of their salaries will count in the Top 51 calculation.
Since Rod Marinelli has taken over as coach of the Lions in 2006, he has held the rookie mini-camp the week after the draft. He brings in a full 53 man roster so that he can run a full practice with the rookies. Players participating in the rookie mini-camp include, the 9 drafted players, 6 UDFA signed by the Lions, 6 1st or 2nd year players currently on the Lions roster and 31 other UDFA's. The other UDFA's are college players that have not signed a contract with any other NFL team, including the Lions. They are brought in and allowed to compete with the other players and hope to sign a contract with the Lions. If my calculations are correct, we could sign up to 5 of these tryout players. We could sign more and release someone or we could sign less and find someone else to sign, but either way, the Lions will be at the 80 player maximum within a few days. Frank Davis is a former UDFA tryout player that ended up signing an UDFA contract and eventually made the Lions Active Roster. For a complete list of players participating in the rookie mini-camp, visit the Lions website, Rookie mini-camp participants.