Detroit Lions: Why Nate Burleson Might Not Get His Football Wish
Nate Burleson certainly felt the wrath of Twitter this weekend.
On Friday, the tweet heard around the world came as a surprise to many, only to be revealed as a fake Jason La Canfora profile. The tweet read that the Detroit Lions shipped Burleson to New England for running back Danny Woodhead.
With the shaky stability of the Lion's backfield and the logjam of wide receivers on the roster, a deal like that would make sense. However, Burleson for Woodhead isn't in the best interest of this team.
The Lion's crafty veteran has been a productive target, a superb leader, and has helped maximize the value of Calvin Johnson.
Burleson told Justin Rogers of Mlive.com his plan of retiring as a Detroit Lion. Unfortunately for him and the Lions, that's unlikely to happen.
Last season, the Detroit Lions were ranked as the fourth oldest team in the NFL. However, the Lions receivers are fairly young outside of Burleson. Johnson is only 26, Titus Young is entering his second season at 22, and rookie Ryan Broyles is ready to scratch the NFL surface at 24. Burleson turns 31 in August and has three seasons left on his five-year deal.
Despite Burleson's stellar production after two years in Detroit (128 catches, 1382 yards, nine touchdowns), it wouldn't be surprising if Burleson didn't finish his contract with the Lions. Players understand the NFL's business side is a harsh reality, but one they must cope with. With Burleson entering his 10th season and at the wrong age, he might not be in the Lions long-term plans.
Will Nate Burleson retire as a Detroit Lion?
The Lions drafted Titus Young last year in the second round to groom next to Johnson and Burleson. Young can be a possession target, or stretch the field with the deep ball for the Lion's offense. If Young emerges into a full-time No. 2 option for Matthew Stafford, Burleson can still do damage as the No. 3 receiver.
On the other hand, the Lions also drafted Ryan Broyles in this year's draft with the same second-round selection. Broyles is reportedly making quite an impression at OTAs and recovering smoothly from his ACL injury in college.
Detroit didn't use a second-round selection on Broyles for insurance, he's expected to play now and later. He was a game-breaker at Oklahoma, and has a boat load of potential to repeat it as a Lion. Even if Broyles takes time to break out, the Lions are in no need to rush or worry about their 24-year-old draftee.
If Broyles stays healthy and produces, plus Young maturing and emerging, Burleson could see his way out the door in Detroit sooner than expected.
Not an implication that the Lions are better off without Burleson. Since coming to Detroit in 2010, Burleson has brought a sense of confidence, leadership and swagger all backed up with positive results.
With on and off field issues plaguing the Lions this offseason, a veteran like Burleson is vital to have moving forward. Burleson will have a big hand with helping Titus Young live up to his potential and stay out of trouble.
Burleson has helped bring legitimacy and respect this franchise has never been a part of. But as we've seen many times before, nothing lasts forever in the NFL.
Burleson has shown no signs of slowing down at his age, and should always have a job in the NFL. Whether it's with the Lions is yet to be determined. If an icon like Peyton Manning can't retire as a Colt, Burleson's dream of retiring a Lion are slim.
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