| Detroit Free Press
Detroit Lions’ Kenny Golladay feels sense of loyalty to organization
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay speaks to the media on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020.
Detroit Lions, Wochit
The Detroit Lions have a decision to make soon on whether to shut wide receiver Kenny Golladay down for the season. If they do, Golladay said Friday he hopes he has not played his last game in Detroit.
“I want to be here, like the city, like what’s going on,” Golladay said in his first public comments since October.
Asked to explain why, Golladay said he feels loyalty to the team that drafted him.
“They believed in me,” he said. “And say, if a contract, if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, then I’ll go somewhere else and ball out and play. But like I say, I’m a loyal person and of course I want to be here. I started my career here.”
Golladay, 27, has not played since straining a hip flexor muscle in a Nov. 1 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
He returned briefly to practice two weeks later, but was out again the next day and has not practiced or played since.
While some have speculated Golladay’s prolonged absence – he will miss his seventh straight game Sunday against the Tennessee Titans – is related to contract talks that stalled before general manager Bob Quinn was fired Nov. 28, both Golladay and interim coach Darrell Bevell said that is not the case.
“I can be clear that he’s not (sitting out for business reasons),” Bevell said. “The guy is competing, he’s working hard. The good thing for me is that I’m in here every day, I get to see what he’s doing. I get to see what he’s putting his body through to try to get back for us and for his teammates. He’s doing that. That’s really what I could say. I love his competitiveness, love what he’s trying to do, it’s just he’s working with an injury that he’s trying to work through.”
Golladay said he “tweaked” his injury when he tried to return to practice in November, “but it didn’t get any worse and it’s kind of just a little lingering thing right now.”
“I for sure want to be on the field,” he said. “Even when I was going out there (for practice), I for sure thought I was ready or I wouldn’t have went out there and, yeah, clearly it just wasn’t ready yet, to be honest. It sucks, really, but I got to be smart with my body.”
Golladay, who led the NFL with 11 touchdown catches last season, is expected to be one of the top free agents on the market when the 2021 league year opens in March.
He and the Lions had sporadic contract talks this fall, but never got close to a long-term deal. The talks grew contentious at one point, with Golladay lashing out on social media after a four-catch, 105-yard performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars, writing, “This shit gone cost you! Don’t let that go over y’all head…”
Golladay, who has 20 catches for 338 yards in five games this season, said he never fought to stay off injured reserve because of his contract situation.
“To be honest, it really wasn’t like I need to stay off this (because) this is my contract year,” he said. “I mean, everybody know what I’m capable of doing. I wasn’t worried about like, ‘I need to play, man. I got to show the people.’ People know who Kenny Golladay is and I was really trying to make sure my body was right. I don’t want to go out there and put bad stuff on tape.”
While talks are on hold now as the Lions undergo a regime change, the team could use the franchise tag on Golladay for 2021 at a projected cost of $15.5 million.
Golladay said he would prefer a long-term deal. Several of the NFL’s top receivers signed contracts earlier this year worth $20 million or more annually, including Amari Cooper (five years, $100 million), Keenan Allen (four years, $80.1 million) and DeAndre Hopkins (two years, $54.5 million).
“Being honest, I’d rather get a deal done,” Golladay said. “But if the franchise tag would come, I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. So yeah, for sure I want to get a long-term deal done.”
As for playing again this season, with three games left and the Lions (5-8) nearing playoff elimination, Bevell said conversations about placing Golladay on injured reserve are “coming.”
“We’re really trying to get him back,” Bevell said. “He really wants to play, he wants to be in there. But that’s a conversation that, where we’re at in the season that it might come to that.”