UPDATE: Thursday, July 18, at 4:45 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
Detroit Free Press reporter Dave Birkett announced the latest on Best:
No surprise, but Jahvid Best cleared waivers— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) July 18, 2013
---End of update---
The Lions formally announced the release of the fourth-year running back in a press release on the team's official website. Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew released a statement in accordance with Best's dismissal, applauding the young man's work ethic during his time with the franchise:
Jahvid is as fine a person and professional as I have ever worked with. He was the consummate teammate and always did everything asked of him. We wish Jahvid the very best in all his future endeavors and have no doubt that he will be successful in whatever path he chooses.
With the 24-year-old Best still on the Lions' payroll, his contract was responsible for a salary-cap hold of about $1.98 million. They will be able to instantly wipe the $876,000 in base salary he was due off their books and prorate some of the dead money incurred by his contract over the next two seasons.
Best tweeted out his own message to fans in Detroit:
Detroit will incur charges of $1.1 million each of the next two seasons for releasing Best, a figure that could have been cheaper had the move been made by the standard June 1 deadline, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press:
$1.1M this year & next. Was cheaper, before June 1 RT @jpbslayer: So whats the cap hit? wasnt it cheaper to keep him on roster?— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) July 17, 2013
Brian McIntyre of Yahoo! Sports reports why exactly Best was cut:
According to the NFL personnel notice, Jahvid Best released by the #Lions with a "Failed Physical" designation.— Brian McIntyre (@brian_mcintyre) July 17, 2013
While salary-cap ramifications undoubtedly played a role in Best's release, it's his inability to stay on the field that was the ultimate impetus for this move. A former first-round pick by Detroit in 2010, Best burst onto the scene with 555 yards rushing and 487 yards receiving as a rookie, and was well on his way to a fine sophomore season before the injury bug bit him.
The slight back, who had a history of concussions dating back to his collegiate days at Cal, suffered his second concussion of the 2011 season against the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 16, 2011 and was placed on season-ending injured reserve.
He hasn't played a down of organized football since. Best was expected to come back to the Lions' lineup at the beginning of the 2012 season and participated in the team's OTAs and other activities. However, doctors never felt comfortable clearing him to play due to post-concussion symptoms. Best was kept on the physically unable to perform list, a move that effectively ended his season in November.
Stuck without a reliable running back for the 2012 campaign, the Lions finished 23rd in rushing yards per game, one of the driving forces behind their disappointing 4-12 record. Mayhew quickly went about remedying that problem in free agency this year, signing Reggie Bush to pair up with Mikel Leshoure, who handled the bulk of the carries last season.
With no word on when or if Best would be able to return to the field, the Lions were satisfied moving on with their new backfield. When on the field, Best's combination of speed, hands and athleticism make him a home-run threat every time he touches the ball.
There is no word on whether Best will try to latch on with another team. Once his release becomes official in the league office, he will be free to sign with any interested franchise. There haven't been any long-term updates on Best's prognosis, nor did he give any indication of which way he was leaning going forward.
In a statement released by the Lions, Best thanked the team for the opportunity:
I want to thank the Detroit Lions organization for drafting me and giving me an opportunity to fulfill my dream and play in the National Football League. My time as a member of the Lions was a very special time in my life. My teammates, the members of the organization, the Lions fans and the people of Detroit will hold a special place in my heart. I’ll always be a Lion.
If Best's career is over, he will have finished with 945 rushing yards and six touchdowns over 22 appearances. The longest run of his career was 88 yards, which he did twice during the 2011 season. Best also made 85 receptions for 774 yards and three touchdowns.
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