Earlier this week Pro Football Talk reported that Donte' Stallworth was going to work out for the Lions on Wednesday based on something Drew Rosenhaus, Stallworth's agent, said. Rosenhaus' statement came in the wake of the news that Stallworth was reinstated to the NFL by Roger Goodell and promptly released by the Browns, making him a free agent.
The news that the Lions are interested really isn't too surprising, because they are definitely in need of upgrading the receiver position and Stallworth does seem like a pretty good fit with the team. I guess we will find out if the team thinks that is the case in the coming days, because NFL Network's Michael Lombardi reports that Stallworth's workout with the Lions will be held today. Obviously there's no guarantee that the Lions will like what they see or that Stallworth will jump at the first offer he receives, but this is something to keep an eye on.
For the sake of discussion, let's assume Stallworth's workout goes well and the Lions decide he would be a good addition to the team. The biggest debate over whether that would be a good move really won't concern his on-the-field abilities. Instead the debate will focus on the fact that he was put behind bars for 24 days and suspended for the entire 2009 season after pleading guilty to DUI manslaughter following an accident last March where he hit and killed 59-year-old Mario Reyes.
There is absolutely no excuse for what happened and certainly Stallworth will have to work to gain a positive public image, but quite honestly I don't think he's a big risk for the Lions. His legal problems aren't large in number and didn't consciously happen over an extended period of time. Again, there's no excuse for what he did and it was an absolutely unacceptable act, but it was an accident. Stallworth shouldn't have been behind the wheel and this was certainly preventable, but unlike Michael Vick, for example, this was an accident, not some ongoing thing.
I don't want to excuse what Stallworth did by any means, but I don't see this as a risk for the Lions because they are in need of upgrading the receiver position and because I don't see Stallworth bringing a PR nightmare with him to the team. There will be some bad press if Stallworth does sign with the Lions (I'll predict right now that Drew Sharp will write a negative article on him), but not enough to the point where it wouldn't be worth the trouble. The fact of the matter is that the Lions need to add talent, and bringing Stallworth aboard would do just that.
For comparison's sake, let's take a look at the career stats of three receivers.
Receiver A: 7 seasons, 109 games, 290 catches, 3,638 yards, 15 TDs
Receiver B: 10 seasons, 144 games, 399 catches, 4,941 yards, 18 TDs
Receiver C: 7 seasons, 95 games, 296 catches, 4,383 yards, 32 TDs
Based on those stats, it's pretty apparent that Receiver C, despite playing in the least amount of games by a large margin, is putting up the best stats of the three given the circumstances. Receiver C has spent the same amount of time in the league as Receiver A and has played in less games, but C's stats are better across the board. Receiver B has played in the league for 3 more seasons and 49 more games, but his stats aren't significantly better by any means, and when it comes to TDs they are not nearly as good as the numbers Receiver C has put up during his career.
So who are these receivers?
Drum roll please...
Receiver A is Bryant Johnson and Receiver B is Dennis Northcutt. Receiver C is Donte' Stallworth. When healthy, Stallworth is an excellent receiver that puts up great numbers, as the stats above suggest. I don't know how exactly he would fit into the Lions' plans for next season considering it's only February, but I think he would be an upgrade over both Bryant Johnson and Dennis Northcutt. More than anything, he would be a nice complement to both Johnson and Northcutt and would give Matthew Stafford an additional weapon in the passing game. Considering Stallworth likely would come at a pretty cheap price and with a short-term deal, I think it would be a mistake to not sign him unless he comes out completely flat at his workout. The Lions need talent, and Stallworth certainly would bring that to the wide receiver position.