Lions Free Agency Preview: Detroit Must Strike Big in Loaded WR Class

JuJu Smith-Schuster

Getty JuJu Smith-Schuster celebrates after a Steelers touchdown in 2021.

When the Detroit Lions think about how to re-shape their roster for the 2022 NFL season, a big focus the team needs to have is thinking about how to generate more explosive plays for their offense.

A major way the team can do that is by going big and signing a top-flight free agent at wide receiver. Early word seems to hold that the Lions will be doing just that when all is said and done, but with some key contract situations getting resolved with Mike Williams and Chris Godwin in recent days, are there still enough players for the Lions to chase that can make a difference?

The latest Lions news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lions newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Lions!

Fortunately, the answer from a Detroit perspective is yes. The team has several wideouts that they could sign and chase on the market which would make a ton of sense to help lead in an offensive revival.

Here’s a look at this year’s list. Be sure to check back in the coming days for more lists of other free agents that make sense for Detroit in 2022.

Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears

While in the NFL, there’s no question that Robinson has been a game breaking receiver and a player capable of changing the game at the position. Born and raised in Detroit and just 27, Robinson is a stud player and has 5,999 receiving yards to his credit in addition to 39 scores. He started his career in college at Penn State, and then was a second-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He departed for Chicago in free agency ahead of the 2018 season, and has been a solid pass catcher for the team since. Here’s a look at some of his best work from 2020:

Allen Robinson | 2020 HighlightsMusic Outro: Eminem – Lose Yourself Second Channel: Instagram: Twitter: ——————————————————————————————————- *I do not own any of the footage or audio in this, it belongs to the NFL and the copyright owner of the song. I make the videos for entertainment purposes only*2021-01-15T21:47:01Z

Robinson is the perfect target for that given he has done a good job of that in recent years with Chicago. There also could prove to be an element of gamesmanship for the Lions, as Robinson has been one of the better wideouts against them head-to-head in recent seasons. Eliminating that from the Bears would not only strengthen Detroit but strike a blow to their own offense.

Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals

Thus far in his career, Kirk has been up and down with Arizona and hasn’t enjoyed a ton of personal accolades or success. He was a former second-round pick of the Cardinals out of Texas A&M in 2018, and has put up decent numbers thus far in the league after a solid college career that featured 28 touchdowns in the SEC. In 2018, he was a PFWA All-Rookie player, but he has yet to crack a Pro Bowl or become an All-Pro. That’s in spite of solid numbers given 2,902 receiving yards and 17 career touchdowns, which are very respectable numbers.

Here’s a look at some of Kirk’s best work from the 2020 season:

Christian Kirk | 2020 Highlights ᴴᴰChristian Kirk Complete 2020 Highlights Wide Receiver #13 Arizona Cardinals. *I do not own any of the footage or audio in this, it belongs to the NFL and the copyright owner of the song. I make the videos for entertainment purposes only* #NFL​ #ChristianKirk #Highlights​ #AmericanFootball​ #Cardinals​ #NFL1002021-02-22T23:48:57Z

Adding Kirk to the Lions would give the team a sneaky threat at one of the most important places on the field. He is not only a bigger-bodied target, but he can stretch the field, too. It also wouldn’t hurt that he seems to have great chemistry with Josh Reynolds, Detroit’s wideout who just re-signed.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Once a primary receiver in Pittsburgh and one of the rising stars, Smith-Schuster fell out of favor a bit with the Steelers and figures to be a potential bargain on this year’s market as a result. Coming out of USC, Smith-Schuster was one of the better wideouts to develop from the 2018 draft. With the Steelers, he put up respectable stats with 3,855 yards and 26 touchdowns. In spite of that, the team looks prepared to let him hit the market, where he could be of major value to a team like Detroit that could use his youth and big play ability to help open up their offense further.

Here’s a look at some of his greatest hits from a recent season in the league:

JuJu Smith-Schuster | 2020-21 HighlightsMusic Outro: Eminem – Lose Yourself Second Channel: Instagram: Twitter: ——————————————————————————————————- *I do not own any of the footage or audio in this, it belongs to the NFL and the copyright owner of the song. I make the videos for entertainment purposes only* #NFL #JuJuSmithSchuster #NFLHighlights2021-01-12T21:15:01Z

The Lions would not have to break the bank to sign Smith-Schuster, which makes him a sneaky good fit for the team. If there’s a concern, it’s that he may not offer the deep game which Detroit needs dearly. Even such, a cheaper 25 year old added to the wideout room seems like a recipe for success for the Lions this offseason.

D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Much like Smith-Schuster, the Lions could look to find a player who has a big body that can make catches in traffic. Chark is that guy, and has been for some time in Jacksonville. He could be earning himself a nice pay bump as a result. Chark came into the league in 2018 as a second-round pick out of LSU and was a 2019 Pro Bowl player. Statistically, he’s been solid as well with 2,042 yards and 15 touchdowns thus far in his career. Here’s a look at some of his best plays so far:

The Lions need a player who can make a big catch in the red zone or down the field in a contested manner. Chark is their guy to do just that and more. Giving him a nice payday could help the team take off offensively during the 2022 season.

Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys

With Cooper, the Lions could have a player that has some major youth and upside at their disposal if he does get cut and hit the market in the coming days. Cooper started his career with the Las Vegas Raiders, and put up some great seasons while there. He collected 3,183 yards and 10 touchdowns with the Raiders, and managed to crack the 2015 and 2016 Pro Bowls while with the team.

A 2018 trade to Dallas allowed Cooper to hit the mainstream a bit more, and as a feature piece with the Cowboys, his numbers picked up. Cooper put up 3,893 yards and 31 total touchdowns as a featured piece within the Dallas offense and the team’s top wideout recently.

Here’s a look at Cooper’s work in the league:

Amari Cooper CAREER HIGHLIGHTSThese are Amari Cooper's highlights from 2015-2020, including his time on the Raiders and the Cowboys. Disclaimer: I do not own any of the NFL content shown here, all of it is owned by the NFL and this video is for entertainment purposes only. Follow the Instagram ➡️ Top 10 video playlist: ➡️

Cooper’s addition would give the Lions another young, big-play target that could help turn things around in a major way offensively. He’s been an elite player and the Lions would be smart to consider him for their wideout room.

READ NEXT: Calvin Johnson Gains Combine Praise from Top Wideout

Read More
Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x