Lions Showing Interest in ‘Big Slot Receiver’: Report

Amon-Ra St. Brown Tyler Boyd

Getty The Athletic's Mark Kaboly reported that the Detroit Lions have at least expressed preliminary interest in wide receiver Tyler Boyd.

The Detroit Lions have already addressed several needs in NFL free agency. But wide receiver Tyler Boyd is emerging as another potential free agent addition for Detroit.

The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly wrote on April 2 that the Lions are among five teams that have showed at least some level of interest in Boyd.

“Boyd has at least had preliminary interest from the Chiefs, Chargers, Dolphins, Lions and 49ers,” wrote Kaboly.

How much the Lions are interested in the 29-year-old receiver compared to those other teams is undetermined. But one of Detroit’s biggest remaining needs is at wide receiver.

Boyd is one of the best receiving options still unsigned.

In a recent article about the top NFL free agents remaining, Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger raved about Boyd’s size and reliability.

“Boyd is a big slot receiver with solid blocking chops in the run game,” Spielberger wrote. “He rarely ever drops a target and does well to sit in soft spots of zones on key passing downs.”

How Tyler Boyd Could Fit With the Lions

Spielberger named the Pittsburgh Steelers the best landing spot for Boyd. However, Kaboly argued that “the ship with the Steelers has sailed” with the veteran receiver.

Boyd initially expressed interest in joining the Steelers, who are his hometown team, at the beginning of free agency. But Kaboly reported the Steelers made Boyd an offer he wasn’t comfortable accepting. Kaboly added that “the ship with the Steelers has sailed” with Boyd.

The Lions could be a good fit for Boyd because they are looking for a receiver to replace Josh Reynolds. The team’s No. 2 receiver in 2023, Reynolds signed a 2-year contract with the Denver Broncos.

Reynolds was second for Detroit with 40 catches, 608 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns in 2023.

Boyd posted the lowest totals of his career last year since 2017. But he produced more than Reynolds with 67 receptions for 667 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. Boyd has also experienced a far more productive career than Reynolds.

In eight NFL seasons, Boyd has registered 513 catches, 6,000 receiving yards and 31 scores. He’s reached at least 50 catches and 650 receiving yards in each of the past six seasons.

Reynolds has never reached 650 receiving yards in his career.

Is Boyd the Right Fit for Detroit?

There’s no question that the Lions could use another receiver to replace Reynolds. There’s also no debating that Boyd is one of the best receiving options left on the market.

But it’s still worth wondering if he’s the best fit for Detroit.

Boyd played more than 80% of his wide receiver snaps in the slot last season according to PFF. That’s not the type of receiver the Lions need the most.

Reynolds lined up in the slot for about 35% of his receiver snaps in 2023. In a perfect world, the Lions will add another receiver in free agency that will play outside about two-thirds of the time.

That won’t be Boyd.

The Lions already have Amon-Ra St. Brown and Kalif Raymond excelling in the slot. St. Brown made first-team All-Pro in 2023 while playing 55% of his offensive snaps at slot receiver.

Adding Boyd to the mix would likely mean either St. Brown playing more outside or Raymond playing fewer offensive snaps in 2024.

Wideouts Jameson Williams and Donovan Peoples-Jones could have bigger roles on the outside next season. But that could occur whether or not the Lions sign Boyd.

From a production standpoint, it makes sense for the Lions to be interested in Boyd. But he isn’t the best fit from a scheme perspective unless the team plans to move its other receivers into slightly different roles this fall.

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