Kalif Raymond had a productive first season in Detroit, and the Lions are bringing him back.
The Detroit Lions have made a notable outside free agent signing in DJ Chark, after re-signing Josh Reynolds last week. They’re bringing back another of their own free agents, with Mike Garafolo of NFL Media and Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reporting the Lions will re-sign wide receiver/return man Kalif Raymond.
Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported Raymond will get a two-year deal worth $9.5 million. Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus has clarified the deal is worth “up to” $9.5 million. As always, the “up to” devil will be in the details.
Raymond came to Detroit on a one-year deal in 2021. He spent the previous two seasons with the Tennessee Titans, and before that he spent time on the active rosters of the Denver Broncos (2016), New York Giants and New York Jets (both of the latter in 2017). He spent time on the Titans and Giants’ practice squads in 2018.
Before landing with the Lions, Raymond had 19 career receptions and over 100 combined kickoff and punt returns. He kept a punt return role in Detroit, and would’ve ranked in the top-five of the league in punt return average if he had qualified for the league leaders (11.2; seventh-best among those with at least 10 attempts). But he also added 48 receptions for 576 yards and four touchdowns as well as four rush attempts for 28 yards, while playing 71 percent of the offensive snaps (742 snaps) over 16 games.
Kalif Raymond should still have valuable role for the Detroit Lions
Raymond’s increased opportunity last season was aided by the Lions’ top two wide receiver free agent signings last offseason (Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman) not lasting through Week 1 healthy or to Week 1 on the roster respectively. The signing of Chark and re-signing of Reynolds changes that dynamic off the bat for 2022, and that’s before the Lions might end up drafting a wide receiver early. Amon-Ra St. Brown is of course in the mix too.
That said, Raymond should remain Detroit’s No. 1 punt returner. It’s worth wondering if he’ll get some run as a kickoff returner too, and he will be an interesting piece for the offense as a gadget player–even if he doesn’t push anywhere close to 50 catches again.