Wagner had been with Detroit since the 2017 season. He played the first four years of his career with the Baltimore Ravens before signing a five-year, $47.5 million contract that included $17.5 million guaranteed. The Lions save a total of $6.1 million on their 2020 cap sheet with the maneuver, and will instead have a $5.8 million dead money charge on their books.
Wagner's release comes after the Lions previously cut ties with veteran defensive linemen Damon Harrison and Mike Daniels. Detroit also traded veteran safety Quandre Diggs last season and has been rumored to be interested in trading veteran cornerback Darius Slay.
Detroit has the No. 3 overall pick in next month's NFL draft, and now has just north of $52 million in cap space as well. The Lions splashed the pot last offseason for former Patriots defensive lineman Trey Flowers and former Seahawks corner Justin Coleman, and it would not be surprising if they went big-money shopping when 2020 free agency opens.
In addition to the offensive line and defensive interior, the Lions have needs in the secondary and on the edge. They obviously feel like they can get more for their money than what the recently-released veterans could have brought to the table. With coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn potentially on the hot seat, they had better be right.