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Detroit Lions plan to release slot cornerback Justin Coleman

The Detroit Lions have informed slot cornerback Justin Coleman he will be released by the franchise, a source confirmed to ESPN on Thursday.

Coleman is the second Detroit defensive back to learn of his pending release this offseason, joining Desmond Trufant. Earlier this month, when head coach Dan Campbell was asked about Coleman’s and Trufant’s futures with the club, he stated those decisions would be coming. Now they have and both players will be elsewhere in 2021.

Coleman had been scheduled to count $11.029 million against the cap in 2021, and depending on how he’s designated upon his release, the Lions might save up to $9 million if he’s declared a post-June 1 release. If not, the Lions would save $6.971 million, according to Roster Management System.

Releasing Coleman now also keeps the Lions from having to guarantee $1.1 million of his $8.95 million base salary, which would have happened on the third day of the new league year, which starts March 17.

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The Lions will carry $4.058 million in dead money due to Coleman’s release, sending the team’s dead money total for 2021 well over $30 million — largely due to the $19 million from the Matthew Stafford trade that will be official when the new league year begins.

Detroit is now thin at corner with the Coleman and Trufant departures.

With just Amani Oruwariye, Jeff Okudah and recently re-signed Mike Ford at the position with significant experience playing for Detroit last year.

The 27-year-old Coleman signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the Lions during free agency in 2019, making him one of the league’s highest-paid slot corners at the time.

He started 16 matches — mostly in the slot — since his arrival in Detroit, breaking up 14 passes with one interception. He also had three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery, all in 2019.

Coleman went undrafted out of Tennessee and has played two seasons each in New England, Seattle and Detroit, appearing in 79 games (29 starts) and breaking up 41 passes with four interceptions and two returned for touchdowns. He also has forced 4 fumbles, recovered 4 fumbles and scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery.

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