What Offensive Skill Players Should Dan Campbell Target in Free Agency?
By: Rachel Marie – @rachmariesports
With the entire new coaching staff nearly assembled and the front office bursting with enthusiasm, it’s time to look at free agent wide receivers and running backs that could help take the Detroit Lions to the next level in 2021.
1. Allen Robinson
I wrote about why the Lions should consider Robinson in a previous article for Pro Football Mania, but I feel that here and now is the right time to write about said consideration again. With Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola all set to be free agents, the Lions will be seriously lacking in veteran receiver talent. This, of course, can only be addressed through free agency and Robinson tops most lists at the position.
In 2020, with Mitchell Trubisky at the helm, Robinson notched 120 receptions, 1,250 yards and six touchdowns. Now pair his abilities with those of Jared Goff, who I expect to come into Detroit with a chip on his shoulder and looking to get back to his 2018 numbers, and this could be a QB/WR duo that could set the league on fire.
Plus, the addition of veteran wide receiver talent will be necessary to ensure that Goff’s transition to Detroit is as successful as possible. I expect Lions general manager Brad Holmes to carefully select the pieces that he places around Goff, considering Holmes is credited for drafting Goff in 2016 and seeing his NFL potential. Rumor has it over at Detroit Sports Nation that Robinson may already be on Holmes’ list.
2. Corey Davis
Hailing from Western Michigan, Corey Davis is another intriguing free agent that may want to come “home” and the Lions should certainly be taking a look at making him the offer.
In the 2020 season, Davis caught 65 passes for a career-high 984 yards, averaging 15.1 yards per reception, and scored five touchdowns. At just 26, Davis is set to test the waters of free agency for the first time as he opted out of his 5th year option with the Tennessee Titans.
This move could end up a much more cap friendly deal for the Lions compared to Robinson. According to TitansWire, “As far as his market value goes, Spotrac estimates that Davis will receive a contract worth $39.4 million over four years, which works out to an annual average salary of $9.8 million”.
And then, maybe the Lions will be the team doing the burning in situations like the one below, instead of the other way around:
3. Kenyan Drake
Kenyan Drake is an intriguing prospect with a high ceiling. After being traded to the Arizona Cardinals in week 9 of the 2019 season, Drake led the Cardinals in rushing yards with 643 and rushing touchdowns with eight over the final eight games of the season.
In 2020, Drake totaled 239 carries for 955 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also finished the season with 25 receptions for 137 yards, an average of 5.7 yards per reception. That’s pretty impressive continued productivity for the 2016 third round pick from Alabama.
Now, picture the five year veteran alongside Lion’s young up-and-coming running back D’Andre Swift and that paints a mighty pretty picture for any backfield. Plus, a veteran presence in the locker room, if Detroit does not retain Adrian Peterson, is always an added bonus. From SEC to DET. Sounds good to me.
4. Mike Davis
With Christian McCaffrey’s injury leaving him out the majority of the 2020 season, Mike Davis was able to show us that he is a more than serviceable back. According to SI’s All Panthers site, “Davis didn’t just step up and get the job done, he had a career year. He finished the season with a career-high in carries (165), rushing yards (642), rushing touchdowns (6), receptions (59), receiving yards (373), and receiving touchdowns (2). Had he been “the guy” from start to finish, you’re probably talking about tacking on another 200 or so more rushing yards”.
Bringing in a back like Davis would not only be a nice pairing alongside D’Andre Swift, Detroit’s RB1, but it would end up working out perfectly for the Lions as far as cap space is concerned.
Davis is also familiar with, and comfortable with, splitting touches. He is quoted as saying, “Yeah I mean, that would be nice to have (being a starting RB somewhere) but I’ve been put in that situation before where that was supposed to be the case and it didn’t end up working out being that way. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side’.
That attitude and complementary play style could start brewing big things in Detroit in the backfield.