Detroit Lions clear up cap space by releasing Louis Delmas, Nate Burleson

Eric Edholm

The Detroit Lions have made two cost-cutting moves that should help them be more flexible entering free agency, releasing wide receiver Nate Burleson and safety and Louis Delmas.

Delmas was a former first-round pick of the Lions in 2009, and former head coach Jim Schwartz infamously said after Delmas' rookie season that there was no player drafted below Delmas that he would have rather drafted. But Delmas fought through injuries the past few seasons, and now four years later, both he and Schwartz are gone.

Could Delmas return at a lower cost? Perhaps, as the Lions have left the door open for a reunion. But you can bet he'll test the free-agent market, and a safety-needy team such as the Buffalo Bills (where Schwartz is defensive coordinator) or the St. Louis Rams, who previously tried to sign Delmas as a free agent.

Burleson was acquired to be a perfect complement to Calvin Johnson, but after a solid first season in Detroit, Burleson's productivity and health both fell off. He caught a combined six touchdowns the past three seasons and was involved in a famous pizza-crash incident that cost him a big chunk of last season. GM Martin Mayhew could bring Burleson back, too, but that appears less likely.

The interesting postscript of these moves is that the Lions now are expected to be active in free agency and could in fact target both safety and receiver as two positions they hope to upgrade.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!