1:00pm: The Lions have confirmed they’ve released Burleson, according to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News (Twitter link).
12:44pm: Although they’ve yet to officially announce the move, the Lions have informed wide receiver Nate Burleson that he’ll be released today, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter). Burleson had one season remaining on his contract, so he’ll hit free agency a year early.
“It’s a hard decision for them to make, but I can’t blame them for making it,” Burleson said of the Lions, telling Birkett that he still intends to play somewhere in 2014 (Twitter link). Birkett believes that Dallas and Tampa Bay are among the possible landing spots for the 32-year-old receiver (Twitter link). It’s also possible that Burleson could re-sign with the Lions for a reduced rate, but according to Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com (Twitter link), that scenario appears unlikely.
Burleson’s contract with the Lions called for a $5.5MM base salary in 2014, with a prorated bonus of $2.03MM, making his overall cap hit $7.53MM. By releasing him, Detroit can wipe that base salary from their books, creating $5.5MM in cap savings. Having been projected by OverTheCap.com to be about $5.32MM over the 2014 cap at the start of this week, the Lions should sneak slightly below that threshold, with more moves to come.
In nine games (eight starts) for the Lions in 2013, Burleson grabbed 39 balls for 461 yards. As he hits the free agent market, Detroit figures to turn to either free agency or the draft to add at least one or two receivers to help complement the club’s superstar, Calvin Johnson.