Trufant signed a two-year, $20 million deal with the Lions before the 2020 season to be the team’s replacement for Darius Slay, who was traded to Philadelphia. Detroit still owes him $3.5 million in guaranteed money for 2021.
It never quite worked out for Trufant, who was the Week 1 starter, as he spent most of the season with hamstring issues that limited him to six games, one interception and four passes defended. He also ended up in a playing time battle with rookie first round pick Jeff Okudah and second-year pro Amani Oruwariye for outside spots. Trufant’s role as a No. 1 corner was in question for the 2021 season.
With both Oruwariye and Okudah under contract for the foreseeable future and being much younger, that made the 30-year-old Trufant expendable. He was scheduled to make $9.5 million in cash in 2021 and carry a cap hit of $12.5 million.
By releasing him, the Lions saved $3 million in cap space — and if he’s designated as a post-June 1 cut, $6.5 million. He will carry a $6 million cap charge for the Lions this year, according to Roster Management System.
On Tuesday, head coach Dan Campbell said the Lions needed competition at the cornerback position.
“We need competition in that area. We need depth in areas,” Campbell said. “We need competition. I mean just because for example, we’ve got two young cornerbacks, man, you still want competition. You want guys that they’re having to compete (with) that are able to push them, or they’re pushing for that starting position. I mean, it’s just healthy. It makes you better.”
Trufant, the former first-round pick for Atlanta in 2013, made the Pro Bowl in 2015 and has started all 103 games he’s played in during his career, making 14 interceptions with 83 passes defended, 3 forced fumbles and 7 fumble recoveries. He played all but last season with the Atlanta Falcons.