Wagner was due to make $9 million in 2020 and had a charge of $11.9 million against the salary cap. In releasing him, the Lions save $6.1 million against the cap but take a hit of $5.8 million of dead money.
Wagner, 30, started 40 games for Detroit after signing a five-year, $47.5 million deal with $29.5 million guaranteed. Those guarantees were used up after the 2019 season. Wagner was initially a fifth-round pick by Baltimore, where he spent the first four years of his career -- the final three seasons as a starter.
According to Pro Football Reference, Wagner had seven holding penalties during his three years with the Lions after having just two holding penalties in four years with Baltimore.
The release of Wagner also wipes out general manager Bob Quinn's 2017 signings to bolster the offensive line. Along with Wagner, Quinn signed guard T.J. Lang to a three-year, $28.5 million contract to play right guard. Lang struggled with injuries throughout his time with the Lions before being released and then retiring in March 2019.
Wagner's release means Detroit could have more confidence in third-year tackle Tyrell Crosby, whom the team drafted out of Oregon in the fifth round in 2018. Crosby had been the team's swing tackle last season and started games at left tackle and right tackle when Wagner and Taylor Decker had been injured.