Kennard was potentially made expendable when the Lions agreed to terms with former Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins on Monday night, crowding the team's linebacker unit.
By releasing Kennard, the Lions will save $5.675 million against the salary cap along with incurring a dead money hit of $1.75 million.
Kennard, who seemed to take the news surprisingly earlier Tuesday on Twitter when he responded to a fan asking him about it, later bid a pleasant adieu to the Lions and their fans.
You ain't lying! No loyalty in this biz!— DK (@DevonKennard) March 17, 2020
My goal in life is to always leave a place better then I found it. I believe I did that in Detroit with the @detroitlionsnfl . Thank you to my teammates, coaches, the support staff and fans that made my experience in Detroit one that I will cherish forever. pic.twitter.com/79XSgk16eE— DK (@DevonKennard) March 17, 2020
He signed with the Lions from the Giants in 2018 and started 30 of the 31 games he played in with Detroit. He tied for the team-high in sacks last season, with seven, and was fifth on the team with 58 tackles. He also had a total of 30 quarterback pressures.
Kennard, 28, was initially a fifth-round pick out of USC by the Giants in 2014 and has started at least six games a season every year of his career. He has played in 83 NFL games, starting 65, with 307 tackles, 23.5 sacks, 8 passes defended, 5 fumble recoveries, 4 forced fumbles and an interception. He mostly played coming off the edge as a stand-up linebacker rushing the passer.
Off the field, Kennard was one of the most active Lions players in the community. He was named a team captain and was the team's nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award last year for working with the Midnight Golf Program and the Lions' social justice initiatives.
"Devon has exemplified what it means to be a man of the community through his platform as an NFL player," Lions coach Matt Patricia said last season. "His natural leadership skills on the football field translate to who he is as a person and the example he sets for people of all ages in our city."
Kennard was also the Lions' player representative to the NFLPA and was outspoken in trying to get yes votes for the collective bargaining agreement -- which passed by a narrow margin last weekend.
In a statement Tuesday from Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn, they thanked Kennard for his "outstanding level of professionalism on and off the field" during his two years in Detroit.