The latest round of NFL rumors has the Detroit Lions making a surprising move on the personnel front. On Twitter, Mike Garafolo reported that sources have told him the team is set to release outside linebacker Devon Kennard.
As Garafolo points out, the move is a surprise because Kennard is a defensive captain, and he is coming off back-to-back seven sack seasons. The NFL.com reporter has also stated that there shouldn’t be any shortage of interest in the defensive star due to his impressive record.
The Lions appear to have shed Kennard in order to get more room under the cap. However, Detroit was No. 31 in the NFL last season in yards allowed per game — with over 400. It is hard for analysts to square that with getting rid of one of the team’s better defensive starters.
Kennard just finished his second season in Detroit after playing his first four with the New York Giants. He was almost a full-time starter for the Lions, appearing in 31 games and starting 30 of them over the last two years. That was a change for Kennard when he was with the Giants, as he started about half of his total appearances.
In 2018, the linebacker rewarded his soon-to-be former squad with a career-high in sacks with seven and matched that output last year. He also recorded a career-high in solo tackles with 45, and his 58 total tackles were near a career-high as well.
When it comes to the market for Kennard, there is a recent example of another defensive star going through a similar situation.
The Cleveland Browns released linebacker Christian Kirksey last week as an apparent cost-cutting measure. There was quite the market for Kirksey, as several teams hosted him for visits right after he was released. At first, the Buffalo Bills, Las Vegas Raiders and Green Bay Packers were said to be in a three-team race for the defender. On Monday, he signed with the Packers — less than a week after hitting the free-agent list.
Things could move a bit slower for Kennard, as the free-agent pool is more full these days. Linebackers are still a hot commodity that plenty of teams are in the market for, and Garafolo isn’t the only NFL analyst who believes there will be a number of teams that will come calling.
It has been an active few days for the league in general, with teams starting to find out what and who is available.
Offensive players have been making the most noise. However, players like Kennard have stood out because of their rarity as well. With both the Packers and Chicago Bears already adding defensive talent to their rosters, Detroit Lions fans are likely hoping that Kennard lands outside the division.