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2020 Detroit Lions free agent profile: Should Lions re-sign Jermaine Kearse?

Jermaine Kearse’s time in Detroit was over before it started, but should the Lions give him another shot in 2020?

New England Patriots v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

After solid year by Marvin Jones Jr., along with career years from Danny Amendola and Kenny Golladay, it’s easy to forget that at one point in training camp there were folks discussing how big of a role former Seahawks standout Jermaine Kearse would have in Darrell Bevell’s newly installed offense. Signed for a small, one-year deal, Kearse was expected to challenge for an inside/outside type of role in an offense that could move around receivers to take advantage of positive matchups. An early injury derailed any chance of Kearse latching on here, but the Lions still have the option to bring him back in the coming season.

Previously in this series:

Jermaine Kearse

Expectations before 2019

Though Kearse was coming off his worst season since 2012, many were ready to forgive last season as a byproduct of the offense he was coming from. After leaving Russell Wilson and the Seahawks a few years ago he spent 2017-2018 with the New York Jets, well known as one of the weakest offenses in the NFL over that span.

Despite a solid contract, there wasn’t much tying Kearse to Detroit, and he was even talked about as an early cap casualty after a weaker start to training camp. He would start to turn it up as camp wore on, however, and by the beginning of the first preseason game expectations were a lot higher.

Actual Role in 2019

No Stats, placed on IR in the preseason

After breaking his leg in the first preseason game for the Detroit Lions, Kearse was placed on IR and remained there through the whole season.

What should the Lions do with him?

Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent

The case for re-signing:

Like his 2019 signing, Jermaine Kearse comes with relatively little risk in 2020. Injuries have been a concern, and remain so, but it was pretty clear with how Danny Amendola was used this last season that a veteran present who knows his way around the scheme has value for Darrell Bevell. When last they worked together, Kearse amassed 41 catches for 510 yards and a score and would do even better in 2017 even while the Jets offense crumbled around him. Kenny Golladay and, presumably, T.J. Hockenson will command the majority of targets in this offense for 2020, but there is still room for someone in a supporting role who doesn’t need to be a superhero.

The case against re-signing:

Injury has shortened the last two seasons for Kearse and, given his age, they will likely remain a concern. I mentioned the Jets’ offensive struggles earlier, and while some of that was outside his control it wasn’t as if this is a guy who can elevate a struggling offense or make plays that aren’t being schemed for him. Training camp would be a bigger deal for a veteran like Kearse in 2020 given how much he struggled leading up to the preseason in 2019, and with the younger players entering camp having both youth and upside on their side it doesn’t make as much sense to keep a veteran if they’re struggling.

My Thoughts

Because of his previous struggles with the Jets, I wasn’t a big fan of the signing of Kearse but I understood that his knowledge of the offense would help installing it. After seeing him in one offseason and coming into a second with the offense already fully installed and rolling, I don’t see much value in bringing in veteran help that isn’t a sure bet.

I wasn’t a fan of Danny Amendola coming into 2019 either, but he more than showed his worth and value as a veteran presence in the offense. I haven’t seen the same from Kearse, and with a strong draft class at wide receiver, I think the team would be better off going younger and faster at the position going forward.


Should Jermaine Kearse get a second chance in Detroit?

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