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2021 Detroit Lions roster preview: Is Geronimo Allison being overlooked?

A closer look at how last year’s opt out could make his way onto the 53-man roster this year.

NFL: JAN 01 Packers at Lions Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Given that the roster is currently 90 players deep for most teams—89 for the Detroit Lions currently—it’s easy for even the most knowledgeable fans to forget a player or two on their favorite team. Perhaps it’s an undrafted rookie who has little chance of catching on with the team, or maybe it’s a player who unceremoniously signed a futures deal back at the beginning of the year.

It’s rare to forget about a player that was on the team last year, but the case of Geronimo Allison is a unique one. Allison decided to opt out last year due to COVID-19 concerns, so his one-year deal from 2020 rolls over into this year. And as fans and analysts start to wonder how Detroit’s new wide receiving corps will shape out this year, Allison is largely being forgotten.

Is this due to some simply forgetting he’s on the roster, or is he not likely to contend for a spot on the 53-man roster? Let’s take a closer look as our 2021 roster preview series continues.

Geronimo Allison

Expectations heading into 2020

The Lions didn’t have a starting role available at wide receiver, with Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., and Danny Amendola all returning. That being said, the depth spots beyond that were up for grabs.

It seemed likely one of those spots would be filled by fifth-round rookie Quintez Cephus, who not only seemed like a steal at the time but looked the part in training camp. From there, Allison would have to beat out the likes of Jamal Agnew—who was transitioning from cornerback—and Marvin Hall, who was returning after an explosive 2019 season with the team.

While it was definitely an upward climb for Allison, he was coming to Detroit with four years of production under his belt from the Green Bay Packers. Allison eclipsed 200 yards in all four seasons in Green Bay, despite only starting a total of 14 games. Essentially, he was reliable depth with similar builds (6-foot-3, 202 pounds) to Kenny Golladay (6-foot-4, 214) and Marvin Jones Jr. (6-foot-2, 199).

Actual role in 2020

2020 stats: 0 games played—Opted out
PFF grade: N/A

At first, Allison reported to training camp, but he quickly decided that he wanted to opt out for the 2020 season. He explained his difficult choice in an Instagram post back in August.

“One of the greatest joys of my life has been playing professional football. I wasn’t sure anything could ever top that until my wife and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world, just a few months ago.

I reported to training camp as a new dad, hopeful to play this season. However, with still so much uncertainty around this very scary virus and the intense desire to protect the health and well-being of my family, I have decided to opt out of this season.”

Allison was one of three Lions players who made the decision to sit out, along with reserve center Russell Bodine and defensive tackle John Atkins. In a poll from mid-August, 44 percent of Lions fans believed Allison was the biggest loss of the trio.

Outlook for 2021

Contract status: Signed through 2021

Allison finds himself in a much more competitive position this year. With Golladay, Jones, and Amendola gone, there are more jobs for the taking in 2021. While Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman are likely to win the two starting outside jobs, the rest of the roster is filled with a bunch of unproven talent, including four rookies. The rest of the “experienced” depth—Quintez Cephus, Damion Ratley, Kalif Raymond, Tom Kennedy, and Victor Bolden—have a combined 69 catches for 1,135 yards in the NFL. Allison alone has 89 catches for 1,045 yards.

However, Allison has a lot of things working against him, as well. He was not signed by this regime, meaning he could be an awkward fit for them. Players like Damion Ratley, Kalif Raymond, and the four rookies were all hand-selected to be a part of the team’s new offensive scheme.

Additionally, we know this regime prefers speed in their receivers, and that’s something Allison just does not bring to the table. He reportedly ran a 4.67 40-yard dash at his Pro Day back in 2016 and typically wins with his size and physicality—something that was valued more in the previous regime.

And while he has a good amount of experience on special teams, he won’t likely be in competition for the return job, which is wide open after Jamal Agnew signed with the Jaguars this offseason.

Essentially, the clearest path to the roster for Allison may be as a “big slot” receiver. He played that role with the Packers in 2019, but he can also play the outside. That likely makes his biggest competitor on the roster Quintez Cephus. The 2020 fifth-round pick had a promising rookie season, but like Allison, he was selected by a different regime with a different offense in mind.

That leaves Allison with a path, albeit a small one, to make the team in 2021. After a quiet minicamp, he’ll have to ball out in training camp and the preseason to win a spot on the 53-man roster.