Rick Osentoski/Associated Press
The free-agent wide receiver class features many players who are not in the upper talent echelon. Instead, it's awash with complementary-type wideouts that will command second-tier status on most teams.
That's perfect for the Lions, who have a superstar in Calvin Johnson but little else at the position.
Many of the lists of top free agent wideouts, including these from Chris Wesseling at NFL.com and Nick Kostos at Bleacher Report, feature the same usual suspects. Players like James Jones, Emmanuel Sanders and Hakeem Nicks will all draw many suitors.
Expect the Lions to pounce hard on one of these players.
Each offers something a little unique and inherently useful for Detroit.
Jones (pictured) deserves strong consideration. For years he's been part of Green Bay's prolific passing attack. As Alessandro Miglio of Bleacher Report noted:
Jones is a solid No. 2 receiver, as he has been during his tenure in Green Bay.
He's ready to contribute right out of the box as the complementary weapon Detroit desperately needs. Per NFL.com, Jones led all NFL receivers with 14 touchdowns in 2012, though he fell back in 2013 between a minor knee injury and the implosion of the Green Bay offense when Aaron Rodgers got hurt.
Sanders would provide the answer at the slot position, where he's thrived in Pittsburgh. As Nick Kostos notes in the aforementioned Bleacher Report article:
Last season, Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders set career highs in receptions (67), yards (740) and touchdowns (six)
That's exactly the kind of production the Lions need in the slot. With 2012 second-rounder Ryan Broyles coming off his third major injury in as many seasons, Detroit would be wise to upgrade that spot with a more proven performer.
Nicks is an enigma, albeit a talented one. He's coming off a miserable season where he failed to catch a single touchdown pass. And as Jordan Raanan of NJ.com reported, Nicks was fined numerous times for being late to meetings.
Still, Nicks was a top-20 wideout in both 2011 and 2012 according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required) He's just 26 and has a career yards per catch average of 14.9 (h/t Pro Football Reference). Consider this as well...
Cooper just re-signed with the Eagles for five years and $25 million, as tweeted by Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Some other names Detroit might court in free agency:
Look for the Lions to pounce on at least one of these receivers in the first few days of free agency.