The Detroit Lions have acquired wide receiver Mike Thomas in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to Mike Florio of profootballtalk.com. Thomas has only 13 receptions and has accumulated 80 yards in 2012, as he has not been a factor in the Jacksonville offense.
The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Thomas in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL draft. He had 48 catches for 453 yards as a rookie. He also averaged 9.4 yards per catch and scored one touchdown in his first year in the NFL.
He followed that up with 66 receptions as a second-year player. He averaged 12.4 yards per catch and finished with 820 yards and four touchdowns.
In 2011, he had 44 catches for 415 yards, averaging 9.4 yards per catch and scoring one touchdown. His role in the Jacksonville offense has diminished with the first-round selection of wide receiver Justin Blackmon and the solid play of Cecil Shorts.
Thomas is 5’8” and 198 pounds, and he is suited to play the slot position in the NFL. The Lions lost wide receiver Nate Burleson to a broken leg, and the Lions do have a need for depth at the wide receiver position, so it makes sense to grab a veteran. However, this trade is a bit of a head-scratcher.
Conventional thought is that they don't need to trade away any future draft stock for a fourth wide receiver. However, the Lions don’t always do things in a conventional way, but they have had success and general manager Martin Mayhew has proven that he knows what he is doing.
We don't yet understand what Thomas' role will be with the Detroit Lions, but there are a few possibilities that would make this trade make sense.
The Lions might view Thomas as an upgrade over return man Stefan Logan. Logan has looked lifeless in 2012, averaging 9.2 yards per punt return on 20 returns. He is also averaging 21.5 yards per kickoff return. Logan has not scored a touchdown on a return since 2010.
Another possibility is that the Lions have some personnel issues that are currently unknown, and this is a proactive move because of the trade deadline coming up this week. The Lions are thin at the wide receiver position, and the loss of one of their starters would significantly damage their offense.
The last possibility is that the Lions view Thomas as a speedy player that they can line up in the backfield. They can line him up and use his speed as a way to keep defenses honest. The Lions did line up Logan in the backfield in the preseason, but Logan is 180 pounds. He would not hold up to the physical pounding he would take lined up as a running back.
The Lions have not been able to get running back Jahvid Best cleared from the concussion issues, and the addition of Thomas could be the Lions' attempt to get speed out of the running back position. The Lions were incredibly potent with the speed of Best as a threat out of the backfield.
Thomas is the size of a small running back and he has the speed that the Lions need to replicate what they had with Best. If the Lions see a scenario where Thomas can help their offense with his presence in the backfield, then this is a solid move.
As confusing as the trade appears to be, there are a few ways to see this trade helping the Lions. It is a fair conclusion to see Thomas as a player that the Lions can use to help them in a variety of ways.
He can help them with punt returns and kickoff returns, help by adding depth to their group of wide receivers and he could help their offense immensely if they can get creative and get him on the field.