Lions Offensive Veteran Floated as NFL Draft Trade Candidate

Kalif Raymond

Getty AtoZ Sports' Mike Payton suggested Detroit Lions wide receiver Kalif Raymond as a potential trade chip during the 2024 NFL draft.

For the Detroit Lions to trade up in the 2024 NFL draft, they will have to depart with draft capital. The problem, though, is the Lions don’t have a ton of draft capital like they did the last two years.

So, to move up the board, perhaps departing with a veteran rather than precious draft capital could be a solution. On April 16, AtoZ Sports’ Mike Payton proposed wide receiver Kalif Raymond as a veteran who could be expendable.

Payton labeled Raymond one of three Lions players who could be traded during the 2024 NFL draft.

“I don’t want to see Kalif Raymond go just like you don’t, but the fact of the matter is that his usage really dropped off in 2023 and the Lions could get what they used to get from Raymond out of Jameson Williams,” Payton wrote. “Couple that with the belief that the Lions will more than likely draft a receiver and guys like Donovan Peoples-Jones and Antoine Green’s roles should be bigger.

“The Lions also signed Tre’Quan Smith before free agency and he was solid veteran contributor for the Saints when Dan Campbell was there.

“Raymond is the Lions punt returner, but they do have Maurice Alexander on the roster as well and he has a decent history of being a return man in the NFL and UFL.”

Raymond posted 35 catches for 489 receiving yards and 1 touchdown in 2023. He also returned 29 punts for 331 yards.

But Raymond saw his targets drop from 64 in 2022 to 44 last season thanks in large part to the emergence of rookies Sam LaPorta and Jahmyr Gibbs.

Why Lions WR Kalif Raymond Could be Expendable

The 29-year-old receiver didn’t play in the postseason because of a knee injury in Week 18. But he dressed for every regular season contest, and yet, his statistics declined.

Raymond also became less involved in the offense as the season went. Over the first nine games last year, he had at least 40 receiving yards four times. He reached that plateau just twice in the final eight contests. During the second half, Raymond had zero or 1 catch on four occasions.

In the second half of 2023, the roles for LaPorta and Gibbs grew. Overall, they both had more targets and receptions than Raymond last season. LaPorta had 400 more yards than the veteran receiver too.

As Payton explained, Raymond could continue to take a back seat on offense with Jameson Williams ready to emerge. Donovan Peoples-Jones could have a bigger role in 2024 as well.

On special teams, Raymond returns punts, but former undrafted rookie Maurice Alexander could move into that spot.

Alexander spent all of the 2023 season on Detroit’s practice squad. But he returned 6 kickoffs for an average of 24.3 yards in 2022.

Why the Lions Shouldn’t Trade Raymond

It’s likely going to be difficult for Lions general manager Brad Holmes to turn down departing with Raymond for a chance to significantly improve the team’s future through the draft at edge rusher or another need.

But there are also plenty of reasons for the Lions to want to keep the 28-year-old.

For one, Detroit already departed with fellow veteran receiver Josh Reynolds this offseason. He left in free agency for the Denver Broncos.

Reynolds was second among the team’s receivers in catches and yards last year. Even with Detroit’s playmakers at tight end and running back, losing the team’s No. 3 receiver after departing with Reynolds is far from ideal.

And although Alexander is an alternative at punt returner, he doesn’t have any NFL experience in that area. Meanwhile, Raymond is one of the better punt returners in the league. He’s averaged more than 11 yards per punt return each of the last three years.

With the Lions expected to compete for the Super Bowl in 2024, they would probably prefer to sacrifice the future by trading away picks rather than lose a versatile depth receiver such as Raymond to move up in the draft.

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