Detroit Lions: Making the case to re-sign receiver Marvin Jones

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Many Detroit Lions fans hoped the organization selected a receiver early-on in the 2020 NFL Draft in hopes of replacing Marvin Jones.

It’s not because Detroit Lions fans dislike Marvin Jones, or hope to see the pending free agent moves-on after this season.  Many people see the writing on the wall.  Entering the 2020 regular season, the franchise’s top three pass-catchers are all entering the final year of their current contract.

Surely the Detroit Lions will make retaining star receiver Kenny Golladay a priority.  After that, things begin to get a bit mirky.  The salary cap becomes an issue moving forward.  The cap appears to freeze similar to the NHL next season if the NFL struggles to increase its revenue in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The league and the players association reached an agreement in late July that stabilizes the 2021 salary cap’s floor at $175 million. Still, the cap is expected to remain at the same $198.5 million, rather than the expected $210 million.

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As pro-rated salaries are set to increase as they usually do, 2021 is expected to be a hectic offseason.  Mostly due to organizations’ trying to shed salary, which also suggests there will be plenty of notable names hitting the open market.  It also may be the reason Detroit feels reluctant to spend on a big named remaining free agent like Jadaveon Clowney.

That being said, there is a chance a player like Marvin Jones may be best suited to re-sign with the Detroit Lions and maybe at a discounted rate.

I expect Golladay will be seeking upwards of $15 million per season on a new long-term agreement.  That will place Golladay in the same company as Davante Adams, Allen Robinson, Alshon Jeffery, and Stefon Diggs when it comes to the team cap hit.  It’s a touch under Mike Evans, Julio Jones, Tyreek Hill, and A.J. Green.  Detroit also needs to re-sign starting left tackle Taylor Decker for similar-type money.

If Golladay earns a $15 million cap hit, where should Marvin Jones settle in?  Would $10 million be a fair deal?  That would be just a $1-million bump from his current cap number of $9.1 million.  Maybe an $11-million cap hit is more likely placing him 20th at his position in the league.

Isn’t that where you’d place Jones?

That would be paying him as if he’s a low-end wide receiver one.  Or, in this case, an elite number-two on his team.  At this point, it seems like a fair deal, and maybe one the Lions can afford.  Other notable receivers who carry a similar cap hit are the great Larry Fitzgerald $11.75 million per season; Golden Tate earns a $10.3 million cap hit and Tyrell Williams at $11.1 million.

You could make a real argument that Jones’ cap number should decrease.  Although possessing tremendous talent and ability to make the down-field acrobatic catches, Jones has only eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark in a single season once in his career.  That came with the Detroit Lions in 2017 when he produced 1,101 yards on 61 grabs totaling nine touchdowns.

Over the past two seasons’ Jones struggled to remain healthy totaling 22 games over the two years,  collecting 97 receptions totaling 1,287 yards and 14 touchdowns while averaging 13.4 yards per reception and producing a 63.4% catch rate.

As it stands, the Detroit Lions are expected to enter the 2021 season owing 46 players $177 million.

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Although I expect Jones to seek that $11-million per season contract if the market dries up, which could very well happen and he settles for $8-million on a multi-year deal, the 30-year old may end up remaining in a Detroit Lions uniform.