Both Detroit Lions players and coaches insisted this week that replacing Golden Tate, who was traded away on Tuesday, won’t be done by individuals. It will take an entire team effort to make up the 90-catch performance that Tate was capable of every season.
That being said, it certainly seems like the Lions are keeping an eye out for a receiving talent similar to that of Tate’s. This week, the Lions worked out a couple of shifty receivers, including one former Lion.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Lions worked out Jeremy Kerley earlier in the week. Kerley was released by the Buffalo Bills back in September, but has spent recent time with the Jets and 49ers. Back in 2016, the Lions actually signed the 5-foot-9 receiver, but ended up trading him to San Francisco prior to the start of the season for offensive lineman Brandon Thomas.
Back in 2012, Kerley had an impressive 56-catch, 827-yard season. Since then, his only comparable performance was in 2016, when he caught 64 passes for 667 yards with the 49ers. While Kerley could definitely play the slot position in Detroit, he is nowhere near the YAC threat that Tate is. Kerley has never finished in the top 40 in yards after the catch in his seven-year career.
In addition to Kerley, the Lions also worked out Bruce Ellington, according to NFL Network:
Ellington is a younger option, at just 27 years old. He was released from injured reserve by the Texans earlier in the week after the Texans traded for Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas. Ellington has spent time on injured reserve during each of the last three seasons of the young receiver’s career. His latest stint on the injury list was caused by hamstring issue suffered in Week 3’s contest with the Giants.
Ellington was drafted by the 49ers in the fourth round back in 2014, and was touted as a quick (4.45 40-yard dash), but undersized (5-foot-9) receiver who is pretty much limited to a slot position in the NFL. Injuries have derailed his career thus far, but if he’s healthy enough now, there’s a chance the Lions could scoop him up as depth, and he could eventually grow into a contributing role.