The Best Potential Landing Spots for Kenny Golladay in 2021 Free Agency
A big-play artist in the middle of his prime at age 27, Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay will be a popular target for contenders and rebuilders alike if he slips to the open market this offseason.
Golladay, a third-round pick in 2017, had two consecutive 1,000-plus-yard seasons in 2018 and 2019 and caught 16 touchdowns over that span before injury setbacks limited him to five games in his contract year. Despite missing extensive time, he's still third among all wideouts since 2019 in contested catches, according to Pro Football Focus.
If the Lions do fail to keep him from hitting the open market, the best potential fits will be able to pay him top dollar and feature him as a No. 1 wideout, giving him another chance to showcase his talent before getting a second opportunity at a big contract.
These are the best possible spots for Golladay in free agency.
It feels like the most likely scenario for Golladay this offseason is the Lions keeping him, hitting him with a franchise tag at worst.
According to Spotrac, the Lions have a top-20 projected cap number, and they will also have plenty of ways to create more space this offseason to make such a move work.
Fellow Lions receivers Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola are set to leave via the open market, which means the offense needs to replace at least 184 total targets between the two. In 2019, Golladay surpassed both with 116 targets.
As the Lions get ready to start over with a new head coach, it's unlikely the team moves on from Matthew Stafford and his contract that has $19 million in dead cap. Golladay is a smooth way to bridge the gap between the now and future—and he'd likely be hard-pressed to complain about top money and status in the same offense that helped him break out in the first place.
The Jaguars figure to go all-in around probable No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence this offseason.
Which should make Jacksonville quite an appealing destination to a name like Golladay.
The Jaguars have the most projected cap space of any team, never mind the top pick in the draft. They do have some interesting pieces around the quarterback too, such as wideouts Laviska Shenault Jr. and D.J. Chark.
But Golladay is a shot at a proven No. 1 wideout right away for a rookie passer, which is of the utmost importance when trying to develop a quarterback. He'd not only get a top-tier contract, but the lion's share of the offensive work through the air.
Jacksonville probably won't contend in the next year or two, yet the other positives would seem to outweigh the negative by quite a lot.
There's an offensive beast and potential contender growing in Miami that Golladay probably wouldn't be too unhappy about joining.
The Dolphins have a bright offensive future with first-rounder Tua Tagovailoa once he's through some growing pains while he develops, plus a top-10 number in projected cap space and the third overall pick to build with after a 10-win season.
That, plus the prospects of pairing with DeVante Parker on a budding offense, makes Miami look like a strong candidate to onboard Golladay. While Parker has been the No. 1, he only had 103 targets over 14 games last year, so there's plenty to go around once the talent at wideout improves.
Golladay's ability to win contested passes to help along a developing passer should be of particular interest to the Dolphins, just as what they can offer him should be of major interest to Golladay, too.
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots are one of the teams that most need help at the wide receiver position this offseason, so it's a natural fit for Golladay even before mentioning Bill Belichick and Co. boast the fourth-most projected cap space.
The Patriots only got 729 yards out of leading receiver Jakobi Meyers this year, and 2019 first-round pick N'Keal Harry only mustered 309 yards and two scores on 33 catches.
Granted, the Patriots had plenty of other problems as Cam Newton struggled under center, throwing eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Quarterback is also a question mark for the future.
Regardless, being the clear-cut No. 1 under such a prestigious coach while working toward getting back to contending seems like a smooth fit for Golladay, especially if he's disillusioned with the idea of undergoing the more extensive rebuild in Detroit.
Washington Football Team
The Washington Football Team figures to be on the hunt for a complementary piece for wideout Terry McLaurin, owner of 2,037 yards and 11 touchdowns over his first two seasons.
Golladay would be an ideal, proven fit in the offense regardless of what the team ends up doing under center in the wake of the benching of Dwayne Haskins. It's an attack that would easily give him 100-plus looks.
The franchise itself would likely be willing to throw plenty of money Golladay's way too considering it sits projected to have a top-five cap number this offseason. Keep in mind Washington has already admitted it pursued free agent Amari Cooper extensively last offseason for these same reasons.
Washington will likely still be eyeing big names like Golladay, who can step into a superstar role and help carry the passing attack into the future. As a bonus, if he is worried about the contention factor when making his decision, the NFC East just sent WFT to the playoffs despite them recording just seven wins.