- Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay is a fascinating NFL free agent
- Golladay’s free agency is a big opportunity for several franchises
- Where will the Pro Bowl receiver sign this offseason?
Affectionately nicknamed “Babytron” as a chip off of Calvin Johnson’s “Megatron” moniker, Golladay certainly does look the part physically on the field. Standing tall at 6’4”, and running a 4.50 second 40 yard dash at the NFL combine, he does check off pretty much all the basic boxes you’d want in a wide receiver. Golladay has also averaged an impressive 16.8 yard per reception in his 4 year career, proving that he’s one of the best downfield threats in the NFL.
Golladay’s natural talent in undeniable, but he didn’t exactly make a contract year push in the 2020 season, which may hurt his potential next contract or dampen his market somewhat. The former standout from the University of Northern Illinois was only able to suit up in five games last year, battling hamstring ailments in the early part of the season. He also had a hip issue that wouldn’t go away and cost him most of the rest of the campaign.
There were reports that Golladay and his camp did not want to risk an injury setback by returning too soon, which could have potentially hindered his health heading into free agency.
With all that being said, let’s take a closer look at three teams might make the strongest play for the 27 year old wide receiver’s service next season.
Jets need a boost
After a miserable season in 2020, the Jets are looking to start fresh and hope that 2021 will bring better things for the franchise and their fans.
They’ll have no shortage of avenues to improve their team this offseason. They have a few desirable draft picks, and a plethora of cap space as well. The Jets are projected to have the second most cap space ahead of 2021 free agency, which puts them behind only the Jacksonville Jaguars in that category.
Jamison Crowder has been the Jets leading receiver each of the past two seasons, but has only averaged just over 11 yards a catch in that time frame. Pairing Golladay with promising wide receiver Denzel Mims could give the Jets a nice tandem of physically imposing, playmaking targets on the outside.
Give Mayfield another target in Cleveland
The Browns just finished one of their best seasons in the last three decades, advancing to the second round of the NFL playoffs before ultimately falling to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Give Cleveland and head coach Kevin Stefanski a ton of credit for turning things around this season, but there’s no doubt that they will be looking to take the next step in 2021.
Whether they’ve been competitive or not, the Browns usually aren’t afraid to make big moves in the offseason, which makes them a possible landing spot for Golladay. They signed TE Austin Hooper and T Jack Conklin to notable free agent deals last offseason, and with the future and health of WR Odell Beckham Jr. in doubt, Cleveland might take a long hard look at Golladay.
Sign up in Cincy
The Bengals aren’t usually major factors in free agency, as they tend to build through the draft rather than open up their wallet to sign players.
However, Cincinnati does project to enter into free agency with the fifth most cap available cap space in the league, and would be well served to use some of their cap space on a young receiver.
Despite finishing the 2020 season with a moribund 4-11-1 record, there’s a decent amount of hope that QB Joe Burrow can build on a promising start to his NFL career, and recover from a season ending knee injury.
WR Tee Higgins had a solid rookie season, but it would benefit the Bengals to continue to add talent around Burrow, considering that A.J. Green is also a free agent, and was not consistent last season. Additionally, the Steelers, Ravens and Browns figure to be quality opponents for the next several seasons, which puts the onus on the Bengals to try and keep up.
But don’t rule out the Lions
Yes, it is possible that after the dust settles, the talented receiver will end up right back where he started in the Motor City.
The Lions aren’t in the best position from a cap space perspective, but could opt to delay paying Golladay a long term deal by placing the franchise tag on him. It seems like Golladay’s camp would prefer the security of a multi year contract, but the pass catcher could make around $16 million if Detroit decided to use the tag.