Ketchman: Recent activity affects Lions cap

George Ketchman details how recent signings and releases have affected the team's salary cap. Inside: A breakdown of Cliff Avril's signing.

How Avril signing affects Detroit's cap
Avril remains Detroit's only signed rookie of the 2008 class.

The Lions have signed their first rookie draft pick. According to Adam Caplan of, on July 11th, Cliff Avril signed a 3 year contract that included a $484,000 signing bonus. His base salaries are $295,000 (2008), $385,000 (2009) and $470,000 (2010). His current year salary cap cost is $456,333 ($484,000 SB/3 years plus $295,000 Base Salary).

As I've noted in the past, only the top 51 player contract count toward the cap until the first day of the season. Before Avril signed, the 51st highest Lions player contract counted $451,720 against the cap. Therefore, the current impact of Avril's contract reduces the Lions salary cap status by $4,500. The Lions are currently $3.9M under the cap.


The months of May and June are a fairly boring time of year for the NFL. The Draft has concluded and teams are just beginning to sign their draft picks and it's no different for the Lions. They do, however, have a very good track record of getting their rookie draft picks signed before the start of training camp. Over the last three years, only one rookie wasn't signed before the start of training camp, Calvin Johnson. He missed one or two days last year, but that was only because he had a very complicated contract that needed to be written and once it was done, he was at camp.

75% of drafted rookies don't sign a contract until after July 4th. The start of training camp is at the end of July and there is nothing that can be gained by signing rookies at the end of June/early July that they'd lose if they were to sign the week before training camp.

Over the past month the Lions have released seven players and placed one player on injured reserve. This freed up eight roster spots and the Lions will need one more spot before they can officially sign all of the rookie draft picks. On June 17th, the Lions released Darrell Blackman, Justin Sanders and Ronyell Whitaker. On June 23rd, Allen Ervin, Greg Lee, Jonathan Lewis and Buck Reed were released. On the 24th of June, Shemiah Legrande was placed on Injured Reserve and is officially done for the season.

None of these transactions had an impact on the Lions salary cap status.

More cap buzz from George Ketchman can be found on his blog.

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