DETROIT — The Detroit Lions are planning to move forward with their plan to cut Ben Tate in favor of a free-agent acquisition, but it’s not going to be quick.
The team has until Aug. 31 to make a decision on a new defensive tackle, but the timing could not be worse.
Tate’s agent, Rich Paul, told The Associated Press he expects Tate to return to Detroit in 2018.
If Tate signs with another team, he would be a free agent for the first time since 2010.
He’s had three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, and he won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2016.
The Lions have also been interested in the services of former Arizona defensive end Gerald McCoy.
After starting for 10 games last season and missing the playoffs, Tate has been one of the league’s best interior linemen.
He has a strong arm and quick feet.
The Detroit coach, Jim Caldwell, said the team has a good opportunity to make the move.
Caldwell said the Lions will look to sign an outside linebacker or defensive tackle to replace Tate.
Veteran linebacker Jarrad Davis, who signed with the San Francisco 49ers earlier this week, will be the Lions’ starting outside linebacker next season.
Detroit signed veteran defensive tackle Nick Fairley to a two-year, $7.5 million deal in June, but Davis left after one season.
He was the Lions leading tackler last season with 1.5 sacks.
The team also signed free-agents cornerback Darius Slay, safety Nate Hairston and safety Antwan Barnes to contracts.