Signing free agents, or extending your own is like playing the stock market for these professional organizations. If you recall, many fans of the Detroit Lions were quite upset when newly appointed general manager Brad Holmes opted against extending the team’s top pass-catcher.
The fan base had already been distraught being forced to watch former general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia dismantle a roster that finished 11-5, 9-7, and 9-7 in the year prior under former head coach Jim Caldwell’s watch.
After shedding the dead weight and bringing in a completely new front office, and coaching staff, the Detroit Lions began another rebuild. Holmes elected to allow the teams’ top two pass-catchers in Golladay and Marvin Jones to walk in free agency, plus traded away the franchise’s all-time passing leader Matthew Stafford.
Holmes inherited a plane but couldn’t afford to fill it with fuel. In 2021, the Detroit Lions possess a dead cap figure of over $65 million. That’s $65 million they are paying to players not currently on the roster. That number significantly decreases to just over $8 million in 2022.
It’s also a franchise still searching for its pilot, and don’t expect the Detroit Lions to find a franchise quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft. Detroit will be leaning on Jared Goff for one more season before the Lions have a real opportunity to draft an elite signal-caller at the top of the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Detroit Lions avoided disaster by allowing Kenny Golladay to walk in free agency.
Golladay had shown flashes of excellence during his time with the Detroit Lions but also showed plenty of worrisome signs as well. In his final year with the Detroit Lions, Golladay suffered a hamstring injury ahead of the teams’ season opener. He’d begin his 2020 season in Week Three, appearing in seven contests before suffering a season-ending hip-flexor.
The talented receiver finished the season hauling in 20 passes, totaling 338 yards and two scores. That production and availability shouldn’t translate to the four-year $72 million he’d sign with the New York Giants this past offseason. Golladay’s deal also included $40 million in guaranteed money.
Leading up to the start of free agency, Golladay mentioned that he’d be open to returning to the Lions but was seeking upwards of $20 million annually. That wasn’t feasible for an organization heading into another wholesale rebuild.
I suspect the Giants are suffering from buyer’s remorse. Golladay has spent most of the 2021 season to date similar to last year; on the shelf. Golladay has appeared in nine games, making just 26 receptions totaling 409 yards, and has yet to find the end zone.
The Giants signed Golladay to be their number one receiver he was in 2018 and 2019. Golladay totaled 2,253 yards and 16 touchdowns over those two years, leading the league with 11 touchdown receptions in 2019.
Golladay had plenty of highlights during his time with the Detroit Lions, but as of now, it appears they’ve made the correct decision by allowing him to walk in free agency. Detroit’s group of receivers are well below-average, but locking up a now injury-prone receiver to a lucrative deal would only hamper the teams’ future, not aid it.