The Detroit Lions began addressing the gaping hole on their wide receiver depth chart Wednesday by agreeing on a one-year contract with veteran Tyrell Williams.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the news of Detroit’s acquisition of Williams, which is a big boost to the Lions’ receiver room as it currently stands:
Former Raiders' WR Tyrell Williams reached agreement on a one-year deal worth up to $6.2 million with the Detroit Lions, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 3, 2021
The fact that Williams was out for all of 2020 due to a torn labrum in his shoulder actually worked in Detroit’s favor — and provided him the chance to be a potential No. 1 receiver in the Motor City.
Since Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola are all on the open market, there was a ton of uncertainty as to what the Lions would do at the wide receiver position. Their top three options are most likely at least going to entertain offers elsewhere as Detroit embarks upon a rebuild under new coach Dan Campbell.
Golladay is a candidate to get the franchise tag, which would provide new quarterback Jared Goff with another big-bodied pass-catcher on the outside to pair with the 6-foot-4 Williams.
However, landing Williams this early in the free agency game — nay, before the market officially opens — raises more questions about what new Lions general manager Brad Holmes has in mind for reworking the roster.
There’s a chance Williams will be counted on to produce as the top wideout the Raiders hoped they were getting when they signed him to a four-year, $44 million contract back in 2019. Williams didn’t live up to that billing in Las Vegas, and having a below-average quarterback like Goff throwing him the ball isn’t likely to get the best out of him.
With Holmes and the front office owning the seventh overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, many mock scenarios have had Detroit grabbing the best receiver available, as someone among the Big Three of Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle are expected to still be on the board.
Now that Williams has joined the Lions and Golladay could still come back, though, there’s a case to be made that Holmes may well be considering a quarterback, or could go for another position of big need in the first round.
Granted, Holmes came from the Los Angeles Rams front office, and his first big move was to trade away Matthew Stafford and replace him with Goff. There must be at least some belief on Holmes’ part that Goff can be a successful long-term starter in the NFL.
Having said that, it appeared over the past two seasons in L.A. that Goff has a limited ceiling, and prospects like Justin Fields and Trey Lance are far more athletic and boast superior upside. Either of them would excite the Lions fanbase far more than the possibility of starting Goff in 2021.
In the event Golladay doesn’t get the exclusive franchise tag and isn’t in Detroit this coming year, there’s still the chance that Williams helps mentor a receiver the team selects early in Round 2 of the draft, and gets the chance to play with Fields, Lance or a superior QB to Goff.
Although Williams lacked leverage because of his injury-plagued stint in Las Vegas, he must’ve been privy to the Lions’ plans at quarterback. Whatever he heard sold him on signing with a rebuilding franchise, as opposed to being a role player and potential X-factor on a true playoff contender.
It must’ve been a heck of a sales pitch from Holmes, Campbell and the Lions brass. Let’s see what else they have up their sleeves this offseason as they try to work the franchise back toward respectability.