There’s a lot of hubbub going on in Lions land right now. The Lions are hiring someone new every day, they have a new quarterback, Matthew Stafford is in Hollywood and Matt Patricia off somewhere else talking about Malcolm Butler while looking like a total slob that resides in the apartment complex behind the 7-11 and had moldy slurpee cups piled up in the back of his 1997 Toyota Tercel.
With everything going on, we’ve totally ignored the crater-sized hole in the Lions receiving corps. The Lions are in a lot of trouble in this area. The only Lions receivers that are currently under contract are Geronimo Allison and Quintez Cephus. If you’re Jared Goff, you can’t be totally excited about the guys you’re throwing the ball to. New general manager Brad Holmes has his work cut out for him there.
So what are the Lions to do? Don’t worry, Brad. I’ve got three ideas for the Lions receiving corps that are reasonable and attainable. Here they are.
Get a deal done with Kenny
A few weeks ago if you would have asked me if Kenny Golladay was staying in Detroit, I would have told you there was no way in hell that was happening. In fact, I authored the article we published saying the Lions should go ahead and part ways with him. After a couple weeks I realize I may have been wrong. Part of me wrote that because I believed he was as gone as gone could be.
Maybe he still is, but his recent appearance on Good Morning Football and some of the hires the Lions have made since that article have me thinking differently today. Golladay sure didn’t seem like a guy that was looking for the exit door out of Detroit.
We just asked Lions WR Kenny Golladay his reaction to Dan Campbell’s first press conference.— Kyle Brandt (@KyleBrandt) January 28, 2021
“I guess we’re gonna be biting some kneecaps.” pic.twitter.com/xmIpHovDRb
Look, that may have been just simple pleasantries. The fact is the Lions are about to embark on a rebuild. Does he want to be a part of that? If he does, the Lions should sign him up. The ball is in Detroit’s court just as much as it’s in Kenny’s in some regards. The Lions might be able to get themselves a discount on Golladay based on his injury issues. It seems hard to think he’ll be able to get the big deal he wanted back in October. Of course this doesn’t mean he won’t be expensive. The Lions are going to have to make some moves for cap relief if they want to get this deal done.
Golladay gives Goff a big target that he didn’t have in LA, and it helps out the Lions offense tremendously to have a guy like him out there. While there should still be some concern with his inability to separate, he can make those contested catches. Getting Golladay a new deal should be the very next thing on the Lions list.
Free agency additions
Regardless of whether Golladay is back or not, the team will have fill out the receiver room with some more guys. They can certainly do that through the draft, and we’ll outline what they can do there a little later, but free agency is where they can find themselves some immediate options.
One of the best things about hiring new coaches is that they often are able to bring some talent along with them. This doesn’t always work out, as we saw with Matt Patricia, but hey, that’s Matt Patricia and it’s well documented that Patriots players don't do well once they leave the nest. Tom Brady doesn’t count.
One signing that seems obvious off the bat is Rams receiver Josh Reynolds. Scouted by Brad Holmes himself, the former fourth-round pick will be hitting free agency after a pretty decent season with the Rams as their number three guy behind Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. Reynolds caught 52 receptions for 618 yards and two touchdowns. In Detroit, Reynolds could meet up with his former quarterback and play a much bigger role than he did in LA. Reynolds could get a shot at being the Lions number two receiver and see a growth in his targets.
The other good thing is that the Lions won’t have to break the bank on Reynolds. It could be a deal similar to Golden Tate’s deal in 2014, but probably even cheaper than that.
Another potential name to think about is Sammy Watkins. At one point in time he was a dream draft pick for many Lions fans. While he hasn’t turned out to be the player most thought he would be, he’s still a viable and likely inexpensive option. The good news, of course, is that he played under Anthony Lynn in Buffalo and new Lions assistant GM Ray Agnew had a hand in signing Watkins to the Rams when he was the teams director of pro personnel.
A less desirable, yet intriguing option is Pharoh Cooper. He’s bounced around the league and has had trouble finding a home, but he also has a connection to Brad Holmes, who scouted him before the Rams took him the fourth round in 2016. He went on to be an All-Pro and Pro Bowl return man for the Rams in 2017. Maybe a reunion with Holmes in Detroit could help him at the very least get back to being a good return man.
Then there’s the obvious way to go. While there’s some thought that the Lions might take a quarterback in this year’s draft, the Lions are in great position to get one of the top receivers. This is something they need to consider regardless if they re-sign Golladay or sign someone like Reynolds in free agency. The Lions can use their seventh pick to go out and get Jaylen Waddle from Alabama. He could pair quite well with two big receivers.
If the Lions choose to grab a receiver later in the draft, there’s options like mid-round target D’Wayne Eskridge of Western Michigan. Eskridge led the MAC in receiving yards and touchdowns. He’s got speed for days. He ran a 4.33 at Western’s summer workouts in 2018 and turned some heads at the Senior Bowl.
Another intriguing option the Lions can get in the mid rounds is Ole Miss’ Elijah Moore. While Moore didn’t see the end zone as much as some of the other receivers that’ll go higher than him, he did finish second in the country with 86 receptions and 1,193 yards. He could be a steal between the second and fourth rounds.
It’s a fairly deep class, and with another Day 2 pick via the Stafford trade, the Lions will have more than a couple opportunities to grab someone that could contribute on Day 1.
Only time will tell what the Lions ultimately plan to do at the position. But if you’re a fan, fear not. There’s plenty the Lions can do to fix this issue.