Kenny Golladay

Lions To Promote Mohamed Sanu

After two weeks on the Lions’ practice squad, Mohamed Sanu is set to return to game action. The Lions are promoting the veteran wide receiver, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

Sanu played in three games for the injury-depleted 49ers this season but did not make much of an impact. He may have another chance to play a key role Sunday, with the Lions down both Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola. This will be Golladay’s third straight absence.

Prior to the Patriots sending a second-round pick to the Falcons for Sanu, he had enjoyed a solid run of production in Cincinnati and Atlanta. Sanu fared well as a Julio Jones supporting-caster, but after the Falcons drafted Calvin Ridley, they moved on from their previous WR2. Sanu did not fare as well in New England and wound up a cap casualty this offseason.

The 31-year-old receiver will interestingly reunite with Marvin Jones, with the former Bengal teammates now doubling as by far Matthew Stafford‘s most accomplished wideouts. Jones and Sanu played together from 2012-15, but A.J. Green‘s sidekicks parted ways in the ’16 offseason when Jones signed with Detroit and Sanu landed in Atlanta.

The Lions also promoted defensive lineman Frank Herron from their practice squad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Place Trey Flowers On IR

The Lions lost to the Colts on Sunday, and they picked up a couple of significant injuries while doing so. Defensive end Trey Flowers is going on injured reserve and as such will miss at least the next three games, the team announced Monday.

Meanwhile star receiver Kenny Golladay picked up a hip injury that will sideline him this week and have him week to week moving forward, sources told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Rapoport noted in a follow-up tweet that IR is a possibility for him as well. The team views Flowers’ stint as a short-term one, Tim Twentyman of the team’s official site tweets.

It sounds like he’ll be back before too long, but it’s still a big blow. Signed to a five-year, $90MM pact last March, Flowers is the anchor of Detroit’s already underwhelming pass-rush. The former Patriot has two sacks and two forced fumbles through seven games this year. Fortunately the team just traded for Everson Griffen, and now they’ll really need him.

Golladay of course is the team’s top receiver, and this is a big setback for the offense. Golladay missed the first couple of games of the season with a hamstring issue, but had at least 105 yards in back to back games before going down against the Colts. Hopefully both will be back on the field as soon as possible.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC North Rumors: Robinson, Packers, Golladay

The Bears and WR Allen Robinson have resumed extension talks after a tumultuous week, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Chicago rebuffed trade inquiries on its star receiver while increasing the contract offer it had on the table. However, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says negotiations are not likely to last deep into the season.

Per La Canfora, Robinson and the Bears still don’t see eye-to-eye on Robinson’s value, and Robinson may be content to head into the 2021 offseason as arguably the best WR available in free agency. But La Canfora says Robinson will not hit the open market. If the two sides don’t come to terms on a new deal, look for the Bears to slap the 27-year-old with the franchise tag. Obviously, both parties would prefer to avoid that outcome, but it sounds like there is still a wide gap that needs to be bridged in short order.

Now for more from the NFC North:

  • Before the season started, we heard that the Packers and RB Aaron Jones were working on a new deal. Although games are now underway, it sounds as if an extension could still get done. Jones, who is currently earning $2.133MM in the final year of his rookie contract, has seen plenty of other backs get new deals over the past several weeks and hopes he will get his big payday soon. “I’m definitely open to getting something done whenever,” Jones said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “But like I said, that’s not my main focus. Just gonna continue to focus on football and helping this team bring in the wins, as many as possible.”
  • Another key member of the Packers who is set for free agency in 2021 is LT David Bakhtiari. As was the case with Jones, Green Bay was hoping to finalize an extension for Bakhtiari before the season, but it sounds as if the two sides are far apart in negotiations. Demovsky says the All-Pro lineman is looking to match or exceed Laremy Tunsil‘s $22MM AAV, while the Packers’ best offer to date is about $4MM per year less than Bakhtiari’s asking price.
  • Lions WR Kenny Golladay will make his 2020 debut soon. Although the star receiver will miss Detroit’s Week 2 matchup with the Packers this afternoon, head coach Matt Patricia said Golladay is “really close” to a return (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network). A few weeks ago, the Lions and Golladay were said to be nearing an agreement on what will surely be a massive extension, though there were conflicting reports on that front.
  • ICYMI, the Bears and RB Tarik Cohen have come to terms on a three-year extension.

WR Notes: Godwin, Lions, Broncos, Bateman

A bevy of wide receiver news has surfaced Friday, with several key weapons either out or likely to be shelved for Week 2. Here is the latest from the wideout ranks:

  • The Buccaneers have given Chris Godwin a doubtful designation. The contract-year wide receiver displayed concussion-like symptoms Wednesday, after absorbing a late-game hit in last week’s loss to the Saints, and remains in Tampa Bay’s protocol. Godwin has missed just two career games.
  • For a second straight week, the Lions will be without Kenny Golladay. Joining Godwin as a contract-year standout on the verge of a big payday, Golladay will miss another game because of a hamstring malady.
  • The Broncos will have their first- and second-round picks together in game action this week, with K.J. Hamler set to join Jerry Jeudy. Vic Fangio said Hamler will play. The second-rounder sustained a hamstring injury during training camp. Denver may have to wait for any Jeudy-Hamler-Courtland Sutton formations, however, with the Broncos’ No. 1 target remaining questionable with a sprained AC joint.
  • During Week 1, DeVante Parker aggravated a hamstring issue he initially encountered during training camp. The Dolphins‘ No. 1 target is questionable to play Sunday.
  • The Texans worked out Devin Smith this week, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes. The Cowboys cut Smith, a former Jets second-round pick, as they trimmed their roster to 53 players. Now 28, Smith has just 15 career receptions since being a coveted prospect in 2015.
  • An interesting situation has emerged at the University of Minnesota, one of several Big Ten teams who saw an impact talent opt out and declare for the 2021 draft. First-round wide receiver prospect Rashod Bateman opted out this summer, but the high-end target is angling to return now. Bateman is back on campus but has signed with an agent, per Yahoo’s Pete Thamel (on Twitter). Due to the unusual circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic has created — particularly in the Big Ten, which announced an October restart this week — the Golden Gophers are attempting to secure a waiver from the NCAA to allow Bateman to play.

WR Notes: Fitz, Evans, Sutton, Reagor, Lions

Larry Fitzgerald has taken a year-to-year approach to retirement for a while now, but the Cardinals‘ all-time great has continued to return and remain productive. However, he will not spend much time considering a return if the now-Kyler Murray-led team makes a surprise run and wins Super Bowl LV this season.

That would definitely validate me,” Fitzgerald said of a Super Bowl victory, via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. “You wouldn’t see me around here anymore if that happened. Another catch, another touchdown, another yard is not going to make more whatever – my legacy is pretty much cemented. I just want to win a championship, I want to compete for a division title. Those are the things that are important to me.”

Now 37, the league’s oldest active wideout has climbed into second place on both the receptions and receiving yards lists. Needing 172 catches to pass Jerry Rice, Fitz would likely need at least two more full seasons to have a chance to move into the No. 1 spot on that list. A yardage pursuit does not seem remotely attainable. Regarding the Cards’ Super Bowl hopes, they sit 17th at plus-5000 — according to BetOnline.ag — to claim a championship this year.

As Week 1 approaches for 30 teams, here is the latest wide receiver news:

  • Sunday will likely force fantasy managers to make changes, and Tom Brady may well have to adjust in his first game with Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers have listed Mike Evans as doubtful to face the Saints. Evans did not practice Wednesday or Thursday with a hamstring injury, before being limited Friday. This is a familiar situation for the seventh-year wideout; Evans missed the final three games of the 2019 season with a hamstring malady.
  • Kenny Golladay is on track to miss the first game in his contract season. The Lions listed their top wideout as doubtful as well. The fourth-year standout has also encountered hamstring trouble. Detroit is not particularly deep at wideout, at least in terms of proven targets, but does have Marvin Jones back to start his contract year. The Lions also re-signed Danny Amendola this offseason.
  • The AC joint sprain Courtland Sutton suffered in practice looks likely to shelve him for the Broncos‘ Monday opener against the Titans. While the Broncos are calling their top receiver “day to day,” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes the third-year standout is a long shot to play in Week 1 (video link). Sutton has not yet missed a game as a pro.
  • Not all the current wide receiver news skews negative. After fears pointed to Jalen Reagor missing multiple September games, the Eagles wide receiver was a full practice participant each day this week and appears on track to play against Washington on Sunday. The first-round pick suffered a torn shoulder labrum during training camp. His presence will certainly help a receiving corps down Alshon Jeffery for the foreseeable future.

Lions, Kenny Golladay Nearing Deal?

Now that Taylor Decker‘s contract is squared away, the Lions are turning their attention to Kenny Golladay. The Lions are nearing agreement with the wide receiver on a brand new extension, according to a league source who spoke with PFT’s Mike Florio. However, there’s conflicting word from NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link) who hears that nothing is imminent. 

[RELATED: Lions, LT Taylor Decker Agree On Extension]

Earlier this year, it was believed that Golladay would actually be prioritized ahead of Decker, so it stands to reason that there’s some momentum on that front as the season draws near. Currently set to make $2.133MM in 2020, Golladay is clearly due for a pay bump. Mega extensions have been rare in the current climate, but Golladay could see an average annual value of at least $17MM. On the higher end, he could command something similar to what the Cowboys gave to Amari Cooper – a five-year, $100MM contract with $60MM guaranteed.

When Matthew Stafford was on the field, things were clicking for Golladay. He finished out with eleven touchdown and 1,190 yards, numbers that would have been stronger had Stafford been healthy throughout the year. Golladay also averaged 18.3 yards per catch, a new career best that ranked fourth in the NFL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Browns, Ravens, Decker

Before Vinny Curry reached an agreement to sign with the Eagles, he received a better offer from the Browns, Geoff Mosher of InsidetheBirds.com tweets. Curry wanted to stay in Philadelphia, per Mosher, but one-year Eagles exec Andrew Berry — now the Browns GM — made a push to bring the veteran defensive lineman to Cleveland. This does not mark the first time the Browns have submitted what was believed to be the best multiyear offer for a defensive lineman only to wind up not signing him this offseason. They represented Jadeveon Clowney‘s best offer, but the former No. 1 overall pick did not go for it and remains a free agent. The Browns redid Olivier Vernon‘s deal, seemingly taking them out of the Clowney sweepstakes, but still appear to be in the market for D-line help. Cleveland did add Adrian Clayborn earlier this offseason, and he stands to be the top backup to Vernon and Myles Garrett.

Here is the latest from the North divisions, shifting first to a more famous Browns cog:

  • Odell Beckham Jr. made some comments recently that indicated he would not be especially upset if the 2020 season did not happen. “I just feel like the season shouldn’t happen,” Beckham said during an interview with the Wall Street Journal, “and I’m prepared for it to not happen and I wouldn’t mind not having it.” These comments, however, came before the NFL finalized its safety protocols. Beckham did not opt out and is set for his second season with the Browns. After skipping most of the Browns’ voluntary activities last year, Beckham has been engaged in the process this year, Berry said, via the AP’s Tom Withers.
  • The pre-Lamar Jackson Ravens routinely rostered two quarterbacks, but they again plan to carry three this year, John Harbaugh said. The Ravens have Robert Griffin III signed up for a third season in Baltimore, while Trace McSorley enters his second NFL season. Harbaugh indicated the team kept three passers last year because it did not believe McSorely would pass through waivers to the Ravens’ practice squad.
  • Two-plus months after the last Taylor Decker contract update, the Lions are not believed to have discussed an extension with the fifth-year left tackle. They have prioritized a Kenny Golladay re-up over Decker’s, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. Decker indicated this week the Lions have not made him an offer yet. A new Decker deal would likely cost the Lions north of $16MM annually. Both players are going into contract years. Decker making it through his fifth season without a new deal would make him a franchise tag candidate, though tags will not be as easy to apply next year if the cap plummets as expected.
  • The Packers announced they will not have fans at their first two home games. However, the team will re-evaluate the situation after those two September dates.

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

TODAY: Good news for the Lions. Stafford has been removed from the COVID-19 list and has been placed back on the active roster, per a team statement. Apparently, the third test that he was required to take before entering team facilities resulted in what turned out to be a false positive, but his next three tests were all negative. Neither Stafford nor any members of his household have (or had) COVID-19.

AUGUST 1: 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.

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.

NFC North Notes: Golladay, Bears, Vikings

With Golden Tate long gone and Marvin Jones entering the final year of his contract, Kenny Golladay figures to be a high priority for the Lions this offseason. Because Golladay was a third-round pick, his fourth season doubles as a contract year. The Lions would like to extend him, and Golladay has expressed interest in a long-term Detroit stay, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets. However, no extension talks have commenced yet. Despite Matthew Stafford missing much of the season, Golladay established career-high marks in receiving yardage (1,190) and touchdowns (11). With the floor for No. 1 wide receivers being around $16MM per year now, Golladay will not come cheap after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

Here is the latest from the NFC North, shifting first to some more receiving situations:

  • Anthony Miller dealt with as many as five shoulder dislocations as a rookie in 2018, leading to a 2019 surgery. The Bears wide receiver’s shoulder troubles are not over. He underwent another shoulder operation recently, Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com notes. Miller missed time during the 2019 offseason but did not miss a game last season. That seemingly won’t be an issue this year, with COVID-19 making it highly unlikely any teams will conduct any offseason workouts. The former second-round pick came on down the stretch last season, finishing 2019 with 52 catches for 656 yards.
  • The retooling Panthers did not pick up Jarius Wright‘s 2020 option, sending the veteran wideout into free agency. Although the Vikings shed Stefon Diggs‘ contract, do not expect Wright to return to Minnesota. The longtime Vikings slot receiver has a slim chance of returning to the team for which he played six seasons, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. The Vikings released Wright in 2018; the 30-year-old wideout played the past two seasons with the Panthers.
  • The Packers‘ agreement with free agent running back/return man Tyler Ervin is a one-year, $1MM pact, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes. Ervin will collect a $910K base salary. The Packers claimed Ervin off waivers from the Jaguars last year and used him on kick and punt returns.