The Detroit Lions have needed help at wide receiver ever since they dealt Golden Tate to the Philadelphia Eagles at the 2018 NFL trade deadline. Interestingly enough, the fix for their issues may come from the Eagles.
CBS Sports insider Jason La Canfora reported on Wednesday that the Eagles were planning to shop around wide receiver Nelson Agholor this offseason as they attempt to rebuild their receiving corps.
Agholor and the Lions may be perfect for each other. Detroit needs to add another starting caliber receiver who can:
- Play out of the slot
- Create separation on his own
- Be an asset in the quick passing game
- Play as a “zone buster”
Agholor meets all the criteria.
The receiver was the 20th overall pick in the 2015 draft. The first few seasons of his career were awful, and if not for his draft status, the Eagles may have released him. They gave him a second (and third and fourth) chance, and were eventually rewarded.
Agholor was arguably the best receiver on the Super Bowl-winning 2017 Eagles, catching 62 passes for 768 yards and eight touchdowns. He followed up a great 2017 with a solid 2018 season where he set a career high with 64 receptions for 736 yards and four touchdowns.
The main reason for the receivers sudden improvement was his move to the slot. With Jordan Matthews in town, Agholor was forced to play as an outside receiver in 2015 and 2016. He struggled greatly and looked lost in the position at times.
Matthews was dealt to the Buffalo Bills before the 2017 season, though, allowing Agholor to take his more natural position inside and he flourished.
Agholor excels against zone coverage. He is a high-IQ route runner that is great at spotting soft spots in opposing defenses and exploiting them to get open deep. He has quick feet, agility and good burst, which allows him to punish defenses when running slants, screens or whip route underneath coverage. While he is not the fastest receiver, his unpredictable and crisp route running makes him a nuisance for cornerbacks who try to guard him in man coverage.
Drops do remain an issue at times for the receiver, and he does have trouble making contested catches, but all he would need to do in Detroit is get open or at least draw coverage away from Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr.
Agholor will be owed around $9 million this season in the final year of his rookie contract. While that amount does seem a little steep, Jones Jr. is currently owed around $9 million next season and Golladay is not even making $1 million a year as he enters Year 3 of his rookie deal. This would mean if Detroit trades for Agholor, the team’s top three receivers would have a combined salary of around $19 million—around the same amount that the Kansas City Chiefs are set to pay Sammy Watkins next season to drop passes and never get open.
A trade for Agholor would leave general manager Bob Quinn in a tough spot next offseason, though. Golladay will be entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2020, and he will most likely have earned an extension. Agholor will be a free agent, and if the Lions want him to be more than just a rental, they may have to work out a long-term deal for him. Jones Jr. will be entering the final year of the contract he signed in 2016, and while Detroit could save $7 million by cutting him next offseason, an extension could possibly be on the cards there as well.
Philadelphia would most likely want a third or fourth-round pick in return for Agholor. Detroit currently owns the Eagles’ third-round draft pick from the Tate trade, and could always just send it right back. While the Lions do not have their own third rounder at the moment, they do have their fourth, an extra sixth-round pick (Patriots) and seventh rounder (Dolphins) that could prove valuable in a deal.