The NFL offseason is officially underway, NFL.com released a list Monday morning of the league’s top 101 free agents; featuring three Detroit Lions players who could soon be out.
Around The NFL editor, Gregg Rosenthal listed Kenny Golladay (15), Romeo Okwara (31), and Marvin Jones (57) as options teams will target once free agency begins.
Golladay, 27, is ranked ahead of Okwara, and Jones shouldn’t be a shocker to anyone, especially in Detroit. For the Lions, retaining Golladay has been the subject of much conversation. And that’s whether it has to be via a franchise tag or long term deal. Reports surfaced last December that he was seeking to ink a long-term deal to stay with the Lions.
“I want to be here,” said Golladay in a December 2020 report from MLive.com
He stated he’s aware nothing will be complete until the Lions figure out which direction they want to head in. Regardless, retaining Golladay should be the main priority.
Granted, Golladay didn’t have a great 2020 campaign because it wasn’t much of one at all. His fourth season was cut short to only five games due to injuries. He recorded 20 receptions for 338 yards, and two touchdowns in the process. Despite that, the Lions know that Golladay is an asset they need as part of this rebuild.
And if they’re lucky, they’ll start the 2021 season with Golladay. When healthy, they’ll have a player who is one of the league’s most dynamic wide receivers. In 2019, Golladay had a breakout season. He caught 65 passes for 1,190 yards and a league-leading 11 receiving touchdowns, which earned him a Pro Bowl nod. Additionally, Golladay was third in yards per reception (18.3).
If the Lions decide move on from Golladay, there are several replacement options in free agency. There’s Detroit-native and Chicago Bears’ wideout Allen Robinson, Tennessee Titans’ Corey Davis, or Houston Texans’ Will Fuller.
Golladay isn’t the only free agent wideout the Lions will have on the market. As mentioned above, Marvin Jones’ contract with the Lions has expired. Several reports have surfaced, indicating that he’s is looking to sign with a contender. Of those reports, one suggests that Jones will follow former Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford; heading west to join the Los Angeles Rams.
Jones, 30, has spent the past five seasons as the Lions’ primary wideout. During that time, he caught 289 passes for 4,296 yards and 36 touchdowns. In three of his five seasons as a Lion, Jones has recorded at least nine receiving touchdowns for the season. During the 2017 season, his second one in Detroit, Jones had a career-best year. He totaled 61 receptions for 1,101 yards, nine touchdowns, and a league-best 18 yards per catch. He’s currently tied with Odell Beckham Jr. at No. 17 for most receiving touchdowns amongst active players (51).
While Jones had a decent 2020 season, it didn’t translate to many wins for the Lions. Jones’ aspirations and the Lions’ rebuild plans do not align in the vision of either party. Cutting ties could be the best scenario for both. However, if Jones has a change of heart, then retaining him on a feasible contract would be ideal.
Golladay and Jones are two of the Lions’ most dynamic pieces of the Lions’ offense. And it goes without saying how significant their contributions are. Nevertheless, it’s arguable there’s another person who just as valuable as those two, if not more.
The Lions defense was putrid last season. And that is putting it politely. However, there was one lone bright spot, and that was Okwara. He had a career-best season for the Lions in 2020. In 16 games, including nine starts, Okwara registered 32 tackles, ten sacks, and three forced fumbles, recovering one. According to another excerpt from the NFL.com report, Okwara’s 61 pressures tied him for the fifth-most among edge rushers.
Not to leave out, Okwara will only be 26-years-old at next season’s start.
With new Lions’ defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn looking to improve on the team identity and toughness. Locking in Okwara to a deal is a start. In 2019, Okwara agreed to a now-interesting deal with the Lions. It his deal, it contained a clause that automatically voided the 2021 season five days after the Super Bowl. The Lions did this to space out the salary cap hit.
NFL Free Agency officially begins on March 17th at 4 PM. The Detroit Lions have several directions they can go in during free agency. Expect at least one or two of their tops free agents to return, but all three is pushing it.