It was no secret that defensive lineman John Cominsky desperately wanted to come back to the Detroit Lions in free agency. Even though he tested the market for about 24 hours, he stated publicly several times that his priority was to land back in Detroit.
“If I haven’t said it already, I WANT TO BE A LION tag @detroitlionsnfl in the comments to make sure the message is loud and clear,” Cominsky posted on Instagram back in January.
“I love the energy there,” Cominsky said last week on the verge of free agency. “I love playing for Dan Campbell. You’re not just head-butting another player before the game in Detroit. The coaches are in on that, too.”
Given the enthusiasm from Cominsky, there was no reason to believe he was just being a good teammate and saying what he needed to say. But just in case you had any doubt, the contract details of Cominsky’s two-year, $8.5 million deal proves that Cominsky was willing to take on a team-friendly deal to be back.
Let’s take a closer look at the contract:
John Cominsky — 2 years, $8.5 million ($3.5M guaranteed)
Contract terms via OverTheCap, contract image from Erik Schlitt
The telling thing here are the guarantees: a $1.1 million, fully-guaranteed salary, and a $2.4 million signing bonus. That’s it: $3.5 million in guarantees over two seasons.
Despite the deal averaging $4.25 million per year, Cominsky’s cap hit is only $2.3 million in his first year. To give you an idea of where that fits in the NFL, it ranks 50th—between Tampa’s Logan Hall (second-round rookie deal) and Carolina’s Yetur Gross-Matos (second-round rookie deal).
In essence, this is a one-year prove-it deal for Cominsky. If he continues to prove he’s a valuable asset on the defensive line—and, remember, he’s just 27 years old—he’ll get a significant raise next year. Those numbers, though, remain fairly reasonable. That $5 million salary and $6.2 million cap currently rank 19th and 24th for the 2024 season, respectively. Those rankings will only continue to move down as more contracts are signed.
If Cominsky doesn’t live up to his expectations, the Lions have a very easy out. A release next year would save the Lions $5 million in cap space and leave them with only $1.2 million in dead cap. In other words, this could very easily turn into a one-year deal for $3.5 million (with cap hits of $2.3M in 2023 and $1.2M in 2024).
Cominsky is betting on himself, which should come as no surprise for a player who wore a shirt that said “1 year of focus and hustle can change your life forever” to his press conference this week.