As the Detroit Lions begin their preparations for the 2017 NFL season, they are currently doing so without a full stable of reliable receivers. Sure, they have Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, who are both solid, but after that, there is much left to be desired.
With Anquan Boldin becoming a free agent following the 2016 season, it was apparent that GM Bob Quinn would have to address the Lions receiver situation, either via free agency or the NFL Draft. Well, Quinn went out and used a 3rd Round pick on Kenny Golladay, a 6-4, 213 lb receiver out of Northern Illinois. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have to admit that I am a bit intrigued by Golladay, but from the sounds of things, he could be a project-type player who takes a couple of years to really come into his own.
If Golladay shines in training camp and during the preseason, problem solved, but chances are that will not happen. So, unless the Lions go out and sign a free agent, they will be rolling with Jace Billingsley or Jared Abbrederis as their options for the No. 3 receiver and that is unacceptable.
Here are three free agent receivers (in reverse order of who I prefer) who could come in and bridge the gap until Golladay is ready to make his presence known in the NFL. As you will quickly notice, there is not much to choose from at this point.
Like I said, when looking at the remaining free agent wide receivers, there is not much to choose from. Andrew Hawkins, who is 31-years-old, is 5-foot-7, 175 lbs and would play slot receiver if he were to sign with the Lions. After catching a career-high 63 passes for 824 yards with the Browns in 2014, he fell off the radar the past two season as he was targeted a total of 97 times. When looking at Hawkins, it is important to consider that he was playing for the Browns, who have not had a decent quarterback for as long as I can remember. Signing Hawkins to come into camp and see if he can earn No. 3 receiver status would not be a bad move for Lions GM Bob Quinn. Worst case scenario, they cut him.
Stevie Johnson, who is 30-years-old, is a receiver I like a bit more than Andrew Hawkins even though he missed the entire 2016 season after having meniscus surgery. While in his prime with the Buffalo Bills, Johnson put together three-straight 1,000-yard seasons and was a force to be reckoned with as he caught 23 touchdowns over that span. At 6-foot-2, 210 lbs, he could still have the ability to be a possession receiver in the NFL.
At this point, I believe the Lions should strongly consider bringing back Anquan Boldin for the 2017 season. Despite being 36-years-old (turns 37 in October), Boldin proved in 2016 that he still has some gas left in his tank, catching 67 passes for 584 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns. Though the grizzled vet is not going to stretch the field, he still has the ability to be a solid possession receiver for Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense.