The Detroit Lions are busy assessing what changes they need to make ahead of the 2022 season, and the biggest focus at this point revolves around what the team will do during free agency.
While it’s still very early to make any kind of recommendations about what kind of players the Lions might target, there are a few dots that folks have felt confident about connecting. One of which is that the team will need a wide receiver and prioritize one quickly within free agency.
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With plenty of free agents on the market, who will the Lions choose to fill that need? It’s a complicated question, with many assuming the Lions will take a chance on a bigger ticket item if it is available to them. Not everyone is so sure the Lions should be targeting the bigger names, however, and one of those names could be wideout Sammy Watkins.
In a recent piece for Bleacher Report, writer Alex Kay picked out the top free agent for every team to avoid in free agency, and the Lions had a simple answer for Kay in the form of Watkins. As Kay explained, Watkins is the kind of big-money player the Lions should avoid because they aren’t quite close to contention yet. He admits Watkins is also injury prone and may not be around when the Lions do turn the corner thanks to his age.
Instead of Watkins, Kay thinks the Lions should look at younger wideouts like Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster who might also come cheaper. It might not be the worst idea given either could figure in as better options for Detroit anyway.
It will be a while before free agency begins, but already, the warnings have been put out about who the team should avoid first. Watkins fits this bill for some.
Lions’ 2022 Free Agency Primer
How can the Lions manage to make some improvements? For starters, the team will have to think about adding some offensive weapons to the mix. Detroit’s wideout group has lagged behind because of a lack of depth most of all in 2021, so making sure a top-flight wideout comes into the mix via trade or signing to help Jared Goff might be the top priority for the team. From there, the Lions need to think about bolstering the defense. Help could be needed up front and on the back end and potentially at linebacker as well.
In his first offseason, Lions general manager Brad Holmes shied away from big deals, focusing instead on smaller deals to help supplement his roster. Several of those deals have panned out, from names like Kalif Raymond to Charles Harris. The same approach could be expected this offseason, so the Lions might make one bigger splash while choosing to focus on multiple other smaller splashes to help supplement things.
While the splash might come at wideout, many already think it shouldn’t be on Watkins specifically.
Watkins’ Career Stats & Highlights
Watkins was formally the fourth-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Clemson, but the argument can be made that he did not live up to the billing thus far in his career having never been a Pro Bowler. Even though that is true, it can also be true that Watkins has enjoyed some decent numbers in his career. He has put up 5,059 yards and 34 touchdowns in his career and did help Kansas City to a Super Bowl win in 2020 and another appearance in 2021. Here’s a look at some highlights:
In terms of a veteran player, Watkins could be an interesting addition to the roster for a team that needs some playmakers at all levels on offense. Getting him for the Detroit offense could be interesting considering the fact that the team has struggled with their downfield passing game a ton this year. Watkins put up 394 yards and 1 score for Baltimore in 2021.
In spite of some of his production, the Lions still have been instructed to stay away from Watkins this year when free agency begins.