The NFL’s deadline for teams to place the franchise tag players is upon us, and one player who will not receive one is Detroit Lions’ wideout, Kenny Golladay.
The NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports that the Lions have decided to allow Golladay to head into free agency and have yet to decide which player they’ll use the franchise tag on by the 4PM deadline on Tuesday.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter followed up this news by stating the Lions have informed Golladay of their decision. During a Monday morning appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up,” Schefter said Golladay turned down a long-term extension from the Lions in 2020. If signed, the extension would have paid Golladay in the ballpark of $18-$19 million per season, placing him in the conversation of the highest-paid wideouts in the NFL.
Despite that, Golladay had other plans and is heading into free agency.
There was much speculation on which direction the Lions would head in regarding him. Golladay, 26, only played five games last season due to a hamstring injury. Along with that, there were other concerns regarding him. Sources have confirmed to Woodward Sports that the Lions’ extending Golladay was not likely, citing a series of questionable behavior and theatrics. Golladay was presumably not a fit with the Lions’ management looking to change the team’s culture. The contradicts previous information and reports that his return was a top focus.
Despite that, Golladay is still a top talent that will garner many offers. Many reports have surfaced, stating that the Baltimore Ravens and the Philadelphia Eagles have high-interest in the former Pro Bowler.
And rightfully so.
In 2019, Golladay caught 65 passes for 1,190 yards and a league-leading 11 receiving touchdowns. Additionally, he was third in yards per catch (18.3) that season as well. As mentioned above, Golladay only played five games in 2020, catching 20 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns.
As Golladay heads to free agency, the Lions look forward to a new chapter with a new wide receiver. Early Tuesday morning, they officially announced the signing of free-agent wide receiver Tyrell Williams. Williams, 29, comes to the Lions as a low-risk, high-reward signing.
In 12 games with the Las Vegas Raiders last season, he caught 42 passes for 651 yards and six touchdowns. Before his lone season with the Raiders, he played four seasons with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers.
Williams coming to the Lions is also a reunion.
In his final two seasons with the Chargers, Williams played under then- Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, who is now the Lions’ new offensive coordinator. When news of Williams’ signing broke, Lions’ fans rejoiced. At first, the expectation was that Williams would compliment Golladay as the No.2 wideout.
Nevertheless, Williams is now looking like the Lions’ number No.1 receiver, for now.
How will the Lions replace Golladay?
With free agency in full gear and the draft on the horizon, the Lions will have options to replace the production of Kenny Golladay. In free agency, the Lions could make a run at Houston Texans’ Will Fuller. Another option would be the Chicago Bears’, Allen Robinson.
Robinson would be an intriguing choice for many reasons.
For one, poaching a talent like Robinson from an in-division rival would be a significant coup. Robinson is a franchise-tag candidate for the Bears, and they yet to announce their decision regarding him. Secondly, Robinson joining the Lions would be a homecoming. Robinson, 27, was born and raised in Detroit. He played high school football at Orchard Laker St. Mary’s before heading to Penn State. Lastly, signing with the Lions would pair Robinson with the best quarterback of his career. Robinson caught 102 passes for 1,250 yards and six touchdowns.
And this was coming from passes thrown by Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky.
UPDATE at 1:50 PM: The Bears will place the franchise tag on Allen Robinson
Then there’s the NFL Draft.
In his latest mock draft, ESPN’s Todd McShay predicts the Lions will draft LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase with the No.7 overall pick. Although he sat one last season, Chase is high on many mock drafts as a top-ten talent. With Golladay seemingly out the door, Chase could be a piece the Lions build their future around. It also gives Jared Goff another weapon to work with, which he’ll need in Detroit. Additionally, taking Chase at No.7 signals the Lions believe in Goff for the future.
Now there’s still a chance that the Lions could indeed reach a long-term deal with Golladay, but it’s safe to surmise that’s highly unlikely now. With Kenny Golladay heading to free agency, the Lions will receive a compensatory pick after another team signs him. The highest they could receive would be a third-rounder.