All NFL teams have to cut down from 90 players to a maximum of 85 before Tuesday, August 16th at 4 p.m. ET. For the Detroit Lions, the impending cutdown could be anticlimactic.
The Lions currently have five players who are on either the physically unable to perform (PUP) or non-football injury (NFI) lists. Those players count against the 90-man roster even though they’re not actively cleared to practice or play.
WR Jameson Williams (NFI)
FB Jason Cabinda (PUP)
CB Jerry Jacobs (PUP)
DE Romeo Okwara (PUP)
DL Josh Paschal (PUP)
The Lions don’t have to make any decision on those five players until August 23rd. That’s the day when rosters must be trimmed down to 80 from 85, and it’s also the point where something needs to happen to players on the PUP or NFI.
From the league’s handbook for 2022:
Simultaneously with the roster reduction to 80 players, clubs that have players in the categories of Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness may select one of the following options: place player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; terminate or request waivers with the designation of Failed Physical or Non- Football Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; request waivers; terminate contract; trade contract; or continue to count the player on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness List.
In short, the Lions won’t have to cut anyone by Tuesday afternoon if they don’t want to. Not releasing anyone would be a good sign that none of the five listed players are going to play in the second preseason game in Indianapolis.
However, the Lions do have some walking wounded players who are not on the lists. If players like DT Levi Onwuzurike, WR Quintez Cephus, S Ifeatu Melifonwu and WR Josh Johnson — all missed every practice last week as well as the Falcons game — aren’t apt to be ready for the week in Indianapolis, the Lions could choose to make a move for depth purposes. Johnson, an undrafted rookie from Tulsa, is the only player here who is in any immediate roster jeopardy.
Should the Lions opt to trim someone off the active roster, my top five candidates in order: TE Nolan Givan, OL Logan Stenberg, OT Obinna Eze, TE Derrick Deese Jr. and Johnson. I don’t see head coach Dan Campbell ending the kicking competition just yet.