Lions Rumors

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/3/20

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here. For the running list of opt out decisions, check out PFR’s 2020 Opt Out Tracker.

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

  • Released: QB Jalen Morton, FB Elijah Wellman

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

  • Claimed off waivers (from Colts): CB Picasso Nelson

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Lions Geronimo Allison Opts Out

Lions wide receiver Geronimo Allison is opting out of the 2020 season, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). As shown in PFR’s tracker, Allison is the second Lions player to exercise his right to skip the season, following defensive tackle John Atkins

[RELATED: Lions Place Stafford, Golladay On Reserve/COVID-19 List]

Allison joined the Lions in March on a one-year deal for the veteran minimum. He showed promise with the Packers – particularly in the first quarter of 2018 when he recorded 19 catches for 289 yards and a touchdown. Last year, he was expected to take on a larger role. Instead, the 6’3″, 202-pound target struggled in the slot. He finished out with 34 catches for just 287 yards and two scores, despite playing in all 16 games.

With the Lions, he was expected to support Danny Amendola, Kenny Golladay, and Marvin Jones. Now, the Lions will need some outside help, especially since Golladay is on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Placement on the list does not necessarily mean that Golladay tested positive for the coronavirus, but he may have come into contact someone who has tested positive. Either way, he won’t be able to return until he clears the league’s testing protocol.

The full rundown of the league’s 30+ opt out players can be found on PFR’s 2020 NFL Opt Out Tracker.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Place Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay On Reserve/COVID-19 List

The Lions placed Matthew Stafford on their reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday. He joins Kenny Golladay, T.J. Hockenson and Justin Coleman on Detroit’s list.

Placement on this list does not mean these players tested positive for the coronavirus. The list also includes players who are quarantining because they came in contact with someone who has tested positive. Stafford will join Golladay, Hockenson and Coleman in being away from the bulk of Lions teammates for the time being.

Thus far, Stafford is the NFL’s highest-profile player to land on the COVID list. He is, however, believed to be asymptomatic at this time, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).

Cornerback Amani Oruwariye, punter Arryn Siposs, safety Jalen Elliott and tight end Isaac Nauta are also on Detroit’s reserve/COVID list. Among the Lions’ group, as of Saturday, it is known Coleman tested positive, though NFL.com reported the veteran slot corner is asymptomatic.

If Stafford tested positive, he will be required to miss at least five days. This waiting period is only for asymptomatic players. Players who test positive and have symptoms for the virus must miss at least 10 days. That number is fluid; it depends on symptoms players experience. Players who land in either category must test negative twice before rejoining the team.

In this altered training camp format, practices do not begin until Aug. 12. Full practices do not start until Aug. 17, so the Lions have a bit of time for their group of starters to return. Teams begin their strength and conditioning-based acclimation periods Monday. Of course, this all depends on the players’ issues with the virus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2020 NFL Opt Out Tracker

Per an agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA, players with COVID-19 health concerns can opt out of the 2020 season. Initially, the deadline was believed to be Tuesday, August 4. Recently, we learned that the deadline is set for seven days after the final execution of the agreement. The lawyers are still hashing out some paperwork matters, so the NFL is looking to push up the date.

Chiefs guard and medical school graduate Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first player to officially opt out. This week, scores of players followed.

Here’s the rundown, so far:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

  • OL Anthony McKinney

Washington Football Team

Free agents

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Suspends Lions S Jayron Kearse

Jayron Kearse will begin his post-Vikings career a bit late. The NFL handed the fifth-year safety a three-game suspension Friday.

This ban stems from Kearse’s October 2019 DUI arrest. The new CBA includes harsher penalties for such incidents, with three games now the DUI baseline. The Lions signed Kearse to a one-year, $2MM deal in March.

One of several Vikings cogs to leave the team in March, Kearse played in 62 of a possible 64 regular-season games with Minnesota since 2016. He started five of those contests and played 270 defensive snaps last season, when he also continued his work as one of the Vikes’ top special-teamers.

The Lions have seen some turnover at safety recently. They traded Quandre Diggs last season and traded for longtime Patriots cog Duron Harmon this year. Kearse, however, has a better chance of upward mobility in Detroit than he did playing behind Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris in Minnesota. He will have to wait for a chance to potentially see first-string action, however.

Extension Candidate: Kenny Golladay

Top Lions wideout Kenny Golladay is due to make $2.133MM in 2020, the final season of his rookie contract. Considering his importance to the team, his overall abilities, and the fact that he is starting to look like one of the better receivers in the league, that represents a terrific value for Detroit.

It stands to reason that the Lions would like to extend Golladay before he is eligible to hit the open market next offseason, and both sides are interested in a new deal. But as of March 30, no contract talks had commenced, and it’s highly unlikely that anything will change in that regard until there is more clarity on future salary caps.

Indeed, big-money extensions have been rare in the current climate, and Golladay’s next contract will undoubtedly be a hefty one. Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com believes the Northern Illinois product will land a deal with an average annual value of at least $17MM (Twitter link), and a review of the receiver market shows that estimate might actually be on the low end. While Golladay may not be on the level of the Saints’ Mike Thomas, it can certainly be argued that he is at least as good as the Cowboys’ Amari Cooper, who just inked a five-year, $100MM contract ($60MM guaranteed) this offseason.

Golladay could stand to improve his consistency, as he put up a couple duds in 2019 even before QB Matthew Stafford was lost for the season. But when Stafford was under center last year, Golladay posted four 100-yard efforts, and he was a TD machine throughout the season, hitting paydirt 11 times. For what it’s worth, Golladay graded out as a top-10 receiver in terms of Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement, and he also made the first Pro Bowl of his career.

In all, he tallied 1,190 yards to go along with those 11 TDs, both career-highs. And though his career catch rate is a little on the low side (57.6%), that often comes with the territory for a big-play threat. After all, Golladay posted a whopping 18.3 yards-per-reception last year, good for fourth in the league.

He has been on an upward trajectory over his first three professional seasons, and it would be fair to expect another step forward in 2020, assuming Stafford stays healthy. As soon as the team gets a better understanding of its future financial picture, it seems likely that it will start negotiations in earnest.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions, Jeff Okudah Agree To Deal

No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah has agreed to terms with the Lions on his rookie deal (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Per the terms of his slot, the cornerback will earn just over $33.5MM over the course of his four-year deal with a $21.9MM signing bonus. 

The Lions’ affection for Okudah was hardly a secret in the build up to the draft. After all, the Ohio State product filled the team’s greatest need, after they shipped Darius Slay to the Eagles. There were other draft crushes on the board, like Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown and Clemson standout Isaiah Simmons, but they couldn’t let Okudah pass them by.

I would put Okudah down as the safest [defensive player in this draft],” NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said before the draft. “I know exactly what position he plays, I’ve seen him play that position against elite competition and I’ve seen him play at a very high, consistent level. To me, Okudah is the safest.”

There aren’t many knocks on Okudah, and the experts say that his ceiling is sky high. In the long run, he has the tools to become one of the league’s better cornerbacks. He also figures to shore up the Lions’ D right out of the gate, with support from Desmond Trufant, Justin Coleman, and Darryl Roberts.

Here’s the full rundown of the Lions’ draft, via PFR’s tracker:

1-3: Jeffrey Okudah, CB (Ohio State): Signed
2-35: D’Andre Swift, RB (Georgia): Signed
3-67: Julian Okwara, OLB (Notre Dame): Signed
3-75: Jonah Jackson, G (Ohio State): Signed
4-121: Logan Stenberg, OL (Kentucky): Signed
5-166: Quintez Cephus, WR (Wisconsin): Signed
5-172: Jason Huntley, RB (New Mexico State): Signed
6-197: John Penisini, DT (Utah): Signed
7-235: Jason Cornell, DE (Ohio State)

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Sign Jason Huntley

As it turns out, the Lions signed two 2020 draftees yesterday. In addition to getting fifth-round wide receiver Quintez Cephus under contract, the club inked its other fifth-round choice, New Mexico State running back Jason Huntley. Huntley posted a picture of himself signing his rookie deal on Instagram.

Huntley may struggle for playing time early in his Lions tenure, as Detroit is also rostering Kerryon Johnson and used a second-round choice this season on talented Georgia back D’Andre Swift, whom some considered to be the best RB in the class. On the other hand, Johnson has dealt with injuries over the first two years of his pro career, and another ailment could push Huntley up the depth chart. In the meantime, he will be competing with the likes of Ty Johnson and Bo Scarbrough for reps as the club’s RB3. He could also push Jamal Agnew for the kickoff returner job.

Huntley exploded in his final collegiate season, racking up 1,090 yards on 154 totes, good for a whopping 7.1 YPC average. He is also a capable receiver out of the backfield, with plenty of speed to burn.

With that, the Lions are just missing the bookends of their 2020 class. No. 3 overall pick Jeffrey Okudah and seventh-round choice Jason Cornell are the only two of Detroit’s nine drafted rookies who have yet to sign. Here’s the full list, courtesy of PFR’s Tracker:

1-3: Jeffrey Okudah, CB (Ohio State)
2-35: D’Andre Swift, RB (Georgia): Signed
3-67: Julian Okwara, OLB (Notre Dame): Signed
3-75: Jonah Jackson, G (Ohio State): Signed
4-121: Logan Stenberg, OL (Kentucky): Signed
5-166: Quintez Cephus, WR (Wisconsin): Signed
5-172: Jason Huntley, RB (New Mexico State): Signed
6-197: John Penisini, DT (Utah): Signed
7-235: Jason Cornell, DE (Ohio State)

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Sign Fifth-Round WR Quintez Cephus

The Lions have agreed to terms with fifth-round wide receiver Quintez Cephus, according to his agents at SportsTrust Advisors (Twitter link).

Cephus, who caught 59 passes for 901 yards and seven touchdowns during his final year at Wisconsin, will likely need to contribute on special teams during his rookie campaign. Detroit boasts a wide receiver depth chart that’s already at least four-deep with Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, and Geronimo Allison, while ace returner Jamal Agnew is making the change to full-time pass-catcher.

Cephus was expelled from Wisconsin during an ongoing investigation into assault charges filed by two women in the spring of 2018. He not only denied the accusations, but sued the university, arguing he was expelled with no due process. Cephus was ultimately acquitted and dropped the lawsuit against Wisconsin, and the school reinstated him as both a student and an athlete for 2019.

With Cephus under contract, the Lions now have six of their nine 2020 draft picks signed. Here’s the full list:

1-3: Jeffrey Okudah, CB (Ohio State)
2-35: D’Andre Swift, RB (Georgia): Signed
3-67: Julian Okwara, OLB (Notre Dame): Signed
3-75: Jonah Jackson, G (Ohio State): Signed
4-121: Logan Stenberg, OL (Kentucky): Signed
5-166: Quintez Cephus, WR (Wisconsin): Signed
5-172: Jason Huntley, RB (New Mexico State)
6-197: John Penisini, DT (Utah): Signed
7-235: Jason Cornell, DE (Ohio State)

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Sign D’Andre Swift

D’Andre Swift took to Twitter this weekend to announce the signing of his rookie contract. Per the terms of his slot, the running back out of Georgia will earn $8.5MM over the course of his four-year deal.

Heading into the draft, many praised Swift as the best running back in this year’s class. The Lions weren’t thought to be targeting an RB early, but they seized the opportunity to grab the two-time 1,000-yard rusher at No. 35 overall.

Swift will provide a safety net behind Kerryon Johnson, who suffered injuries in each of his first two seasons. The youngster’s advanced blocking ability may allow him to perform as an every-down back at the next level and there’s reason to believe that he can develop into an adept pass-catcher as well. Swift didn’t post gaudy receiving numbers at UGA, but he’s got a 72-inch wingspan, so the potential is there.

With Swift signed, the Lions now have five of their 2020 rookies officially in the fold. Here’s the full rundown of their class, via PFR’s 2020 NFL Draft Tracker:

1-3: Jeffrey Okudah, CB (Ohio State)
2-35: D’Andre Swift, RB (Georgia): Signed
3-67: Julian Okwara, OLB (Notre Dame): Signed
3-75: Jonah Jackson, G (Ohio State): Signed
4-121: Logan Stenberg, OL (Kentucky): Signed
5-166: Quintez Cephus, WR (Wisconsin)
5-172: Jason Huntley, RB (New Mexico State)
6-197: John Penisini, DT (Utah): Signed
7-235: Jason Cornell, DE (Ohio State)

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.