Kenny Golladay Rumors: Latest on Lions Free Agent Before Free Agency Opens

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2021

Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay (19) works against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Atlanta. The Detroit Lions won 23-22. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)
Danny Karnik/Associated Press

The Detroit Lions' announcement that they would not use a franchise tag on star wide receiver Kenny Golladay makes him free to sign with another team beginning Wednesday, March 17 at 4 p.m.

Golladay is the Pro Football Focus top-ranked remaining free agent; he's a downfield threat with a penchant for making the impossible grab possible.

With quarterback Matt Stafford off to Los Angeles, a new signal-caller under center in Jared Goff and no reason to believe the Lions will be vying for a playoff spot come January, Golladay will likely seek to continue his career elsewhere.

What will potential suitors be getting and who looks to be at the front of the line for Golladay's services?


An Underrated Playmaker

Golladay has flown under the radar, potentially in the shadow of Detroit predecessor Calvin Johnson.

Upon closer look, though, Golladay and the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee have closer-than-expected numbers through the first 47 games with the Lions:


Kenny Golladay in 47 career games with Lions: ▪️3,068 rec yards ▪️21 TD Calvin Johnson's first 47 career games with Lions: ▪️3,166 rec yards ▪️22 TD https://t.co/aFN91dSWKw

Behind by just 100 yards and a single touchdown, Golladay has outperformed his moderate star power.

In 2019, Golladay trended upward following an 1,190-yard, 11-touchdown performance. Last season, he suffered from hip flexor and hamstring injuries, limiting his productivity and availability and leading to his worst year as a professional.

Even then, the big receiver averaged 16.9 yards per catch. 

The upcoming season will be an opportunity to prove that the 2019 campaign was not an anomaly.

Which jersey might he be wearing when he sets out to do just that?


Miami A Favorite

Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reported the Dolphins are a team to watch in the Golladay sweepstakes.

"Word around the league is the Dolphins are determined to add a No. 1 receiver in free agency, and they are expected to show considerable interest in Golladay once the legal tampering period begins next week," he wrote. "At 6'4", he certainly fits the big-bodied mold of receivers favored by new co-offensive coordinator George Godsey."

The Dolphins are in need of a playmaker at wideout, regardless of whether they develop Tua Tagovailoa or can manage to execute a trade for Houston's Deshaun Watson.

DeVante Parker is the star of Miami's receiver room, but Golladay would be an upgrade at a position that also touts Preston Williams and Jakeem Grant.

In a league where a team is only as good as its skill players, a team to the north may prove the Fins' greatest competition for the receiver.


A Giant Upgrade

ESPN's Jordan Raanan appeared on the Breaking Blue podcast (h/t Dan Benton of USA Today) and confirmed interest from the New York Giants in Golladay, with a caveat. 

"I am telling you, the Giants are interested in Kenny Golladay. There's a reason they called the Lions last year around the trade deadline."

They are, though, concerned about the 2020 injuries.

"He's been injured. He's played one 16-game season in his four years, and there's a reason the Lions didn't really want to sign him long term. They obviously did not feel totally comfortable giving him that money."

Injuries or not, the G-Men will "be in on him."

Whether he ends up in South Beach or the Big Apple, or perhaps up in receiver-starved New England, remains to be seen, but Golladay will be one of the first big signings of the free-agency period and will cash a substantial pay check due to the potential he brings to any passing game he is part of.