The Detroit Lions will certainly be looking to add a wide receiver or two this offseason, but could they make a big move to add a big name?
It’s fair to assume the Detroit Lions will be deep in the market for wide receivers this offseason. How that looks, via free agency or the draft, isn’t as important as finding the right fit(s). Re-signing one, both or neither of Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond will impact the plans too.
The Lions could make a big move for a big-name wide receiver. Calvin Ridley clearly seems to be available, and as the New Orlean Saints navigate salary cap purgatory Michael Thomas may be available. Well, Thomas might not be available…
Here in February, the Saints can put it out there all they want about not “planning” to trade Thomas. But the reality is they have to find any way possible to get to the salary cap number, let alone under it to be able to sign draft picks or do anything else. He has three years left on his contract, with cap hits in the $24-$25 million range all three years.
Could the Lions consider making a big move for Michael Thomas?
Jeff Risdon over at Lions Wire has laid out a second mock 2022 offseason for the team, with trades more prominently in play. A bold move for Thomas is on that docket.
We have a trade, pt. 1
The salary cap-challenged New Orleans Saints — currently some $75 million over the cap for 2022 — jumpstart their post-Sean Payton era by dealing away a very expensive but wildly valuable asset in wide receiver Michael Thomas.
In exchange for the 28-year-old Thomas, who missed the 2021 season with an injury, the Lions give up TE T.J. Hockenson, their own third-round pick in 2022 and the Rams’ first-round pick in the 2023 NFL draft acquired in the Matthew Stafford trade. The Saints also send the Lions a fifth-round pick in 2022 because these sorts of trades invariably include a seemingly superfluous Day 3 pick.
Sacrificing Hockenson is a big blow, but this move is made on the thought process that the Lions won’t value Hockenson enough to want to pay him the top-dollar free agency contract he will undoubtedly earn. The draft picks sweeten the pot without wrecking the Lions’ ability to continue to make more moves of significance if they choose.
There’s no denying Thomas’ talent when healthy. But his last two seasons have been wrecked by an ankle injury, including missing all of this past season. Giving up Hockenson, who the Lions have a fifth-year option decision on this offseason as they also consider whether to give him a multi-year deal, would be an aggressive step for the Lions.
Thomas’ trend toward being a malcontent could be curbed by the familiarity he’d have with Lions head coach Dan Campbell, who of course was a Saints’ assistant before going to Detroit. Any idea to trade for Thomas would surely have to come with Campbell’s stamp of approval.
A lot of teams would do well to make trade offers to the Saints for expensive veteran players they’ll have a hard time keeping all of.
The Lions could be a destination for Thomas, if they’re willing to make a viable offer and the Saints are open to dealing him. Never say never when it comes down to it, but it’s hard to see Thomas being in a Lions’ uniform if he’s not in a Saints’ uniform.