Brad Holmes gave serious consideration to signing wide receiver Kenny Golladay to the franchise tag and then trying to trade him, but ultimately that scenario proved too risky for the Detroit Lions’ first-year general manager.
Holmes made that revelation during a 20-minute video conference Monday to discuss the team’s many offseason moves.
Golladay signed a four-year, $72 million deal with the New York Giants earlier this month that was one of the richest contracts in free agency.
Had the Lions used the tag on Golladay, they would have been able to control his rights for the 2021 season at the cost of about $16 million.
“We did discuss it and we mulled over it,” Holmes said. “I wasn’t joking when I said he was at the forefront of my mind throughout the whole process. But we did discuss those options and it just, there is some difficultly in terms of forecasting that’s involved. So that’s kind of why you probably may see (moves like that are) more prevalent in the NBA versus the NFL.”
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Historically, teams have gotten more in return from tag-and-trade deals than the compensatory draft choice they get for losing a free agent, in Golladay’s case, a projected third-rounder.
Last year, the Jacksonville Jaguars got second- and fifth-round picks in a tag-and-trade of Yannick Ngakoue, and in 2019, the Houston Texans got a third-round pick and two players for Jadeveon Clowney.
Holmes said the depth of the wide receiver position both in free agency and the draft and “how the market was shaping out” led him to pass on both tagging Golladay and pursuing Golladay to re-sign.
A Pro Bowl receiver in 2019 who was limited to five games with hip and hamstring injuries last season, Golladay was widely considered one of the top players on the market regardless of position, but the Giants appeared to be bidding against themselves – at least at the $18 million-per-season price point – for Golladay’s services.
The Lions, who lost their their top five receivers from last season in Golladay, Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, Jamal Agnew and Mohamed Sanu, have rebuilt their receiving corps with bargain basement signings and by adding players on one-year deals.
They signed Tyrell Williams before free agency opened and added Breshad Perriman, who played for new receivers coach Antwaan Randle El, during the free agent negotiating period.
The Lions also signed return man Kalif Raymond and ex-Cleveland Browns receiver Damion Ratley, who was a draft pick of senior personnel executive John Dorsey, and likely will add a player at the position in the draft.
With the No. 7 pick in the first round, the Lions are in the range of where the draft’s top three receivers, LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith, are expected to go.
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This year’s draft is considered deep at the receiver position, with potential first-year contributors expected to be available throughout the first three rounds.
“With Kenny, I’ve always stated that, very, very talented receiver but we pretty much knew that, as with pretty much every year in terms of free agency and the draft, that it’s relatively deep in both spots,” Holmes said. “There was a few different factors that went into it, but at the end of the day, it was just making the right decision for the Lions, both not only short-term but more importantly long-term. So that was a decision that we came to, but wish Kenny nothing but the best in New York and was happy to see that he got a good deal.”
Contact Dave Birkett at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.