Did the Detroit Lions err by not strengthening their WR corps?

I hate being the guy who slows down the hype train a bit. It was very fun. I was on the train too. I was the conductor a few times. Even last week when I projected the Lions to finish 12-5 after the schedule was released. Still, I can’t help but feel like the Detroit Lions missed out on an important job this offseason. This position is wide receiver.

As it stands, things don’t look so bad on paper. The Lions have one of the best receivers in the game right now in Amon-Ra St. Brown. It’s a sure thing. After him, there is still much to be desired. Jameson Williams should be a good player, but we haven’t seen that yet and we’ll still have to wait as he was suspended for the first six games of the season.

Then there’s 33-year-old Marvin Jones. He has already started to slow down in his career. He should be a reliable pair of hands, but it’s probably a stretch to assume he’ll play a major role in this team’s receiving game. His production dropped to just 529 receiving yards last year, down 300 yards from his previous seasons. This is year 12 for him. He will play and he will get targets, but the number of targets he will get should be much lower than it has ever been in his career.

Then there’s Kalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds. We know what these guys can do. They’re great utility players who are great to have, but both have pretty average caps for their game. Finally, there’s rookie Antione Green. We don’t know much about Green yet, but don’t expect him to play a major role in Year One.

So where does that leave the Lions receiving corps? I don’t know and that’s the problem. The Lions had chances to add to the roster in free agency and the draft and aside from the seventh-round pick they used on Green, they stayed away from the position.

The Lions need a guy who can come out and be their No. 2 right away. They just definitely don’t have that right now. It’s worrying because it could end up hampering Jared Goff and the Lions offense at the start of the season, forcing them to step back where they can’t afford to. DJ Chark may not have been the most productive player last year, but the Lions offense was the most efficient when he was on the field. After losing him to free agency this offseason, the Lions haven’t adequately replaced him.

In addition, Detroit has a small long-range receiver problem. Just Williams, St. Brown and Green are signed beyond 2023.

That said, the Lions have done a good job of supplementing their wide receiving body with pass catchers at other positions. Rookie tight end Sam LaPorta, who would have sounded really good at the rookie mini amp, is an offensive weapon that can do certain things with the ball once the catch is made. Then there’s also first-round pick Jahmyr Gibbs. He led the Crimson Tide in receptions last season and should be more of a positionless weapon than a running back. He could get a huge share of goals in 2023.

In the end, that might not be a problem. Still, it just feels like this team needs one more guy. Just one more weapon. A guy who can go out and do contested holds and jump over everyone. It’s easier said than done. It is not too late. There are still options for the Lions.

Not long ago I spoke about how the Lions should all be involved in a trade for DeAndre Hopkins. At this rate, it seems unlikely the Cardinals will trade him, but if Hopkins forces his exit, the price should be cheaper than ever after the team didn’t move him during free agency or the draft. The Lions should accept his contract (~$19.5m reached for 2023), but sometimes you have to take on things like that when you’re preparing for a title run. Since the room is full of expiring contracts, the Hopkins hit contract doesn’t hit as hard.

It is however not the only option. Tee Higgins is rumored to be on the trading block, however the Bengals have publicly called these rumors “ridiculous”. How many times have we seen teams say they weren’t going to trade a guy and do it anyway? It happens all the time.

These are just two ideas. Both are unlikely to happen, but you never know. The Lions should call each other before camp to see what other options they have and try to sort everything out before the start of the season.

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