Scavenging the NFL waiver wire is akin to finding diamonds in the rough. You can find some gems, such as Romeo Okwara, but more often than not, it is full of castoff players that are there for a reason—they just weren’t good enough. It’s the nature of the business sadly. For many of us, the names we see listed on cutdown day are just that: names, never to be thought of again.
For the Detroit Lions, the waiver wire could be an opportunity to add some depth pieces to a fairly shallow roster. If there’s one thing the 2021 Lions have an abundance of, it’s opportunity. Across nearly every position, there exists the opportunity to seize a sizeable role on the team. Players like A.J. Parker and Bobby Price have already capitalized on their first opportunities to earn a role.
Let’s take a look at some players that could try to capitalize on a second opportunity, possibly with the Lions.
Kyle Lauletta, QB
Entering the 2018 NFL Draft, there were rumblings that Kyle Lauletta could be a Jimmy Garoppolo-like prospect: a small school quarterback that eventually develops into a starting-caliber player. That never materialized for Lauletta, however, and he has bounced around the league ever since. He put together a solid preseason in 2021, throwing for 514 yards and three touchdowns with the Browns. He’ll never be the starter some projected he could be, but he still has the potential to be a capable backup. With an injury to Tim Boyle and David Blough performing modestly, the Lions could stand to add depth to their quarterback room.
Jason Huntley, RB
This name should ring a bell for Lions fans. A surprise cut last year, fifth-round pick Jason Huntley hardly got an opportunity with the team that drafted him. Perhaps the team was overconfident that he would clear waivers, but it was a decision that backfired. The Eagles scooped him up, keeping him on their active roster all season. However, it produced little in terms of results, and due to a crowded running back room this year, he once again finds himself on waivers. With a new coaching staff in Detroit, a reunion could work, especially considering Lions assistant head coach Duce Staley was his position coach last season. The Lions don’t have a pass-catching running back like Theo Riddick, and Huntley could fill that role. He has additional value as a returner too.
Equanimeous St. Brown, WR
This is another name that should be familiar to Lions fans, but in a different way. Equanimeous St. Brown is the brother of recent draft pick Amon-Ra St. Brown and former Green Bay Packer. There is the feel-good story that would come with reuniting another set of brothers, but Equanimeous would fill a void in a very depleted receiver group, even after trading for Trinity Benson. Equanimeous is an elite athlete and would serve well as an outside Z receiver, a position left vacant by Breshad Perriman. Injuries have been his biggest concern, however.
Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR
We’re going to be looking at a lot of receivers, so buckle in. Gandy-Golden was released by Washington just a year after selecting him in the fourth round. He had a single reception in 2020, but he was viewed more as a project going forward. Washington decided to cancel that project quite quickly, however. The move was somewhat surprising, as Gandy-Golden had a strong preseason. He will likely be a hot commodity on the waiver wire.
Seth Williams, WR
Speaking of recent draft picks getting waived, Seth Williams did not make it a single season with the Denver Broncos. Selected in the sixth round this year, Williams was a victim of a very competitive wide receiver group, as seen by the Lions acquiring Benson from that very same group. Williams has the size and speed that would make him an excellent developmental asset for the Lions.
Travis Fulgham, WR
Another familiar name to come across the waiver wire, Travis Fulgham had a whirlwind of a year. After failing to make the Lions roster, he was picked up by the Packers for a short time before ending up with the Eagles. The 2019 sixth-round pick put together an incredible first five games in Philadelphia, racking up 435 yards and four touchdowns on 29 receptions. However, he cooled off, a trend that continued into 2021. Originally a challenger for a starting role, Fulgham played himself off the roster with the Eagles. There is always the chance of rekindling that early success, but it could also have been a flash in the pan.
Tyron Johnson, WR
Okay, last wide receiver, I swear. Tyron Johnson saw plenty of action last season with the Los Angeles Chargers under head coach Anthony Lynn, so a reunion makes a lot of sense. Johnson has blazing speed coupled with decent size, similar to the recently-waived Damion Ratley but with more production. He totaled 20 catches for 398 yards and three touchdowns with the Chargers last year despite playing a mere 265 offensive snaps. He was one of their highest-rated Chargers players by PFF in 2020, so you have to imagine Lynn would be interested.
Kenny Yeboah, TE
The Lions have just two tight ends on the roster, and it is extremely unlikely they stand pat. One of Brock Wright or Alizé Mack is likely to return, either to the active roster or practice squad, but both disappointed throughout the preseason and training camp. If the Lions want an upgrade over those two, Kenny Yeboah could be an option. The coaching staff have made it known they want their tight ends to be versatile, and Yeboah fits the bill. He started his preseason slow, but shined in the Jets finale against the Eagles, notching this Hail Mary grab.
Jackson Barton, OT
With the surprise waiving of Tyrell Crosby, the Lions have just one backup tackle, Matt Nelson. The tackle selection on the waiver wire is fairly thin—Le’Raven Clark and Michael Schofield could be of interest to Detroit, but they are veterans and are free to sign with whomever. Halapoulivaati Vaitai could theoretically slide outside again, but I’d wager that is a last resort. Jackson Barton has the athletic traits you look for in an offensive lineman, and he put together a really good training camp and preseason. However, it was not enough to earn himself a spot. Given the depth issues for Detroit, they could target Barton.
Prince Tega Wanogho, OT
In a similar vein as Barton, the Lions could target the athletic Prince Tega Wanogho for help at offensive tackle. Name bracket potential aside, Wanogho was more of an athlete than a football player when he was drafted in 2020 by the Eagles, falling to the sixth round partly due to a knee injury. He joined the Chiefs this offseason and performed well, earning time with the second-team offense. His knee could be a concern in the future, but he seemed uninhibited by it this preseason. His preseason PFF grade places him just behind Taylor Decker.
Curtis Weaver, DE
The Lions pass rush is perhaps the deepest position on the team, but Curtis Weaver should draw heavy interest. Drafted in 2020 by the Dolphins, Weaver landed with the Browns after Miami waived him with an injury. He did not play with either team, but the temptation of his potential should entice the Lions. In the Lions’ defense, he would likely move to outside linebacker like Trey Flowers and Romeo Okwara, potentially pushing one of Austin Bryant or Charles Harris off the roster. Weaver was performing well in his first preseason, but he was a victim of a talented Browns defense not having enough space.
Quincy Williams, LB
The Lions opted for Anthony Pittman over Jahlani Tavai, signaling the value of coverage in this scheme. Pittman wasn’t impressive during preseason so the Lions should be in the market to add another linebacker. Quincy Williams is a speed demon on defense, but he is built like a safety at just 5-foot-10. Chosen in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Jaguars—current Lions’ defensive line coach Todd Wash was his defensive coordinator—Williams struggled as a rookie starter, and only ended up playing two games in 2020. Still, the traits are there for the Lions to take a gamble. As they learned with Tavai, you can’t teach speed.
Sheldrick Redwine, S
The wide receiver group has been panned this preseason, and rightfully so, but the safety group is just as bad. Tracy Walker and Will Harris are still young and candidates to rebound in a Matt Patricia-less defense, but that is more hope than fact. Dean Marlowe, meanwhile, has just a year of starting experience under his belt, and even that was limited with Buffalo. If the Lions want to add a young piece to their secondary, Sheldrick Redwine could be an option. Redwine was a fourth-round pick by the Browns in 2019, primarily playing as a free safety. Redwine has had his share of struggles, exacerbated by injury, but he could prove to be the developmental player the Lions could use. Not only could he step into the third safety role, but he is an active contributor on special teams like C.J. Moore. The Lions have just four safeties on the roster, since Bobby Price moved to corner, so additional depth could be needed.
Jake Verity, K
The Lions did the thing and released both of their kickers. There is the chance that either Randy Bullock or Zane Gonzalez return after some roster shuffling, but this is also a prime opportunity to begin anew after a mediocre camp from the two. Jake Verity is perhaps the best young kicker on the market, having obviously failed to beat Justin Tucker for the starting spot in Baltimore. Not only could he be an upgrade over Bullock and Gonzalez, but at 23 years old, he could be a long-term option if he pans out.