If the future of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is in doubt, the salary-cap consequences for cutting him aren’t.
Based on the contract extension he signed in 2013, the Lions can release him with a post-June 1 cap charge of $5.5 million in 2016 and $5.5 million in 2017. All teams can designate up to two players as a post-June 1 cap charge, clearing them off the roster before that.
Alternatively, the Lions can release Stafford without the June 1 designation for a 2016 cap hit of $11 million; he’d then be off the books for 2017. The Lions also can trade Stafford before June 1 with the same cap hit, again taking him off the books completely for all future cap years.
Of course, it could be hard to find a trade partner, given that Stafford has a $17 million salary in 2016. Given the lack of quality quarterbacks, however, a team that has strong leadership from the coaching staff or elsewhere on the roster could be intrigued by the possibility of getting Stafford.
Ultimately, Stafford will have options, either at $17 million or whatever he can get on the open market. For him to have an option in Detroit, the coach will have to want him. Before we can know the answer to that question, we’ll need to know who the coach is.