There’s no question now that the Detroit Lions biggest need this offseason is at wide receiver and not at corner, as the Detroit Free Press’s Dave Birkett reports that the team has released veteran wideout Nate Burleson, who would have made $5.5 million next season. Even though the Lions were thin at receiver, it would have made no sense to keep Burleson around, as he is 32 and on his last legs due to significantly diminished speed. He still has good hands and is a solid No. 3 receiver as a veteran, but the Lions probably want to go younger at the position. More importantly, it would have been crazy to pay him $5.5 million, and he’s also missed 17 games in each of the past two seasons.
Burleson isn’t going to hang up his spikes, though, and he wasn’t terrible by any means last season, averaging 51.2 yards per game. That said, this move was all about the bottom-line financially, and the Lions simply couldn’t get him at that exorbitant price tag. He shouldn’t have difficulty finding work due to his track record, but he’ll have to sign a cheap, one-year deal and likely fits best as a No. 3 receiver due to his lack of speed that leads to an inability to get proper situation.
So what’s next for the Lions? I think this team needs to draft a wide receiver early, and they should also sign a quality free agent this offseason. The Lions are in a position to play it smart at WR in free agency, meaning they should target the best value available and don’t have to oversell on the position. I mean, they have Calvin Johnson after all, and Joseph Fauria is an intriguing second-year TE. The draft is deep enough so that the Lions don’t have to pick a wide receiver in the first round, and they’ll probably hope that they can snag a top talent in the second (Davante Adams looks like a great second round option). They should, however, strongly consider taking a guy in the first off the board at WR, and a dream scenario has Sammy Watkins tumbling to the Lions.