FA Landing Spots: Kenny Golladay
Wide receiver Kenny Golladay will enter free agency after the Detroit Lions released news on the 9th of March that they will not use the franchise tag on their top receiver. Where will he go? There are plenty of teams that would love to add to their offenses to help boost them to the next level.
Golladay did not have a good 2020 season due to injury. He was only on the field for 5 games during the year and put together the following statistics.
Beginning the 2020 season Golladay was coming off back-to-back 1000 yard years and was the clear top target over this period with Marvin Jones finishing second in receiving yards in 2019 while Golden Tate finishing second with less than half of Golladay’s total yards in 2018. As we can see from his end of season stats, this is the first year that he has missed substantial game time and without him, the Lions didn’t have a receiver finish the regular season with 1000+ yards for the first time since 2009 in a year where Calvin Johnson only narrowly missed out with 984.
While glancing at the impending free-agent wide receivers at the end of the 2020 season there were four names that stood out, they were, Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay, Juju Smith-Schuster, and Chris Godwin. On the same day that the Lions said they will not use the tag on Golladay, both Tampa Bay and Chicago stated they will use theirs on Godwin and Robinson. This arguably puts Golladay in a tier all by himself when it comes to top receivers hitting free agency.
Last year the Lions and Golladay began contract negotiations about signing a long-term deal with the amounts of up to $18/19million being quoted as potential annual salaries. This would put him on the same level as the top-paid receivers in the game. Obviously, these talks stalled, no deal was signed and now his projected market value is only slightly lower than this original number at a reported $17million. Due to his injury-hit season will he accept less? Let’s have a look at some teams who could make a play for him.
New York Jets
The Jets have been a destination mentioned for just about every high-profile free agent this off-season. Do they stick with Sam Darnold, draft a quarterback or make a trade offer for someone like Russell Wilson? With the number 2 pick in the upcoming draft it is likely they use this position to take a quarterback but whichever way they go they will need to add pass catchers to help whoever takes the QB role.
The Jets are certainly one of the teams that will want to add receivers during the off-season to attempt to make up ground on division rivals Patriots, Dolphins, and Bills. Perriman is a free agent and there is speculation that Crowder could be cut which would save an additional $10million although with the cap space being second highest in the league behind only the Jaguars- it wouldn’t be complete madness to bring back at least one of these players. If reports are to be believed, however, and they do go into 2020 without these players, they would do so without their top two receiving options (looking at yards). With the cap space being what it is the Jets could quite easily bring in top offensive pieces while leaving plenty to address other issues.
New York Giants
We have just spoken about the green side of the MetLife Stadium but another team who could be on the look-out for a high-end receiver could be the blue side. The Giants were part of a very poor division last season and it is difficult to see every team having a similar 2021. Washington is likely to add pieces in the off-season, Dallas has committed to signing Dak and the Eagles are moving into a new era with Hurts as QB. The Giants will need to improve and add pass catchers to their roster to keep up with the others in the division. They were also interested in bringing in Golladay at the trade deadline during the 2020 season which adds another layer to this possible landing spot.
Not having Barkley-due to injury- for the majority of the season clearly hurt them with a combination of Lewis, Gallman, and Alfred Morris all given touches to try and pick up the slack. Evan Engram led the team in targets in 2020 and is a solid enough tight end, Barkley is an elite running back who everyone hopes will return to top form following his serious injury, but Daniel Jones needs more options to help move the team forward. Slayton and Shepard are good receivers however are probably more two’s than one’s.
One of the potential stumbling blocks to this deal would be the (lack of) cap space of the New York Giants. At the time of writing, they arein the red’ by just over $5.5 million so work needs to be done to bring this back to above the line. Golden Tate has already been cut which not only gives them a bit of breathing room with the cap but also creates space at the wide receiver position. Golladay would bring a touchdown threat to a team whose leading (receiving) scorers only managed 3 each. In 2019 Golladay managed 11 TD's in addition to his excellent yard total. As we saw with ‘the Dak deal’ it is possible to get around the cap situation by listing the money as bonus’ instead of annual salary and if the Giants can find a way to create a bit more space this would be an interesting move for them to make.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders would be an intriguing landing spot for Golladay. The division could be a strong one with the Chargers improving, the Broncos will be getting Sutton back from injury and possibly making a change at quarterback, and then there is the little problem of having to compete with Mahomes and the Chiefs. The Raiders spent some high draft capital to bring in Ruggs (1st round), Edwards (3rd round), and also brought in Lynn Bowden Jr one spot ahead of Edwards who is now in Miami. Considering the price paid for these players the return was nowhere near where they wanted it. Waller is an elite tight end and led the receivers in catches, targets, yards, and touchdowns which we can see by the below statistics.
Nelson Agholor had a ‘career year’ following his move from the Eagles and certainly did his fair share for his new team, but unfortunately for the Raiders, he is now a free agent. It does sound like the Raiders are keen to have him back and with a market value of around the $9million mark, this wouldn’t cripple the team when looking at the cap space which is sitting at around $36million. If they brought back Agholor would they bring in Golladay as well? It is possible, it depends on how much faith they have in their two young receivers. Apart from anything else signing a veteran receiver like Golladay would take the pressure off the young shoulders. There are a few other notable free agents going into 2021. Zay Jones is a free agent and is thought to be unlikely to return, Tyrell Williams has already left and joined the Lions in their rebuild and running backs Booker and Riddick are both free agents.
The Dolphins came close to becoming a playoff team in 2020. After trading away many assets for draft capital they are not far away from being a force. With the Patriots floundering this could be a great opportunity to compete with the Bills for the division title. The Dolphins are thought to be chasing a top receiving option in free agency and with Godwin and Robinson being signed to the franchise tags for their respective teams this reduces available players. None of the Dolphins receiving options got that close to breaking the 1000 yard total and behind Parker and Gesicki, the next best was a pass-catching running back Myles Gaskin. At the time of writing this article, Tua is thought to be the starter going into the 2021 season. There have been whispers of a blockbuster trade with the Texans to secure Watson and possibly send Tua the other way, but outside of this, the 5th overall pick from the 2020 draft should be the signal-caller in Miami.
Assuming this is correct and Tua stays and starts he needs help. The Dolphins have over $35million in cap space so there is more than enough to give Tua all the help he needs. They currently hold 4 picks through the first 2 rounds of this year’s draft and it is likely they add offensive help for Tua. Many mock drafts have the Dolphins taking a wide receiver at the number 3 spot but it is also possible they trade this pick away with many teams likely looking to move up and draft the top college QB prospects. By signing Golladay, this would give Tua a clear number one target to work with and could clear the 3rd overall pick to address other areas of concern. By still taking a top wide-out with this pick it could make the offense a frightening prospect for the coming season, especially if they also sign help at the running back position to assist the development of their young quarterback.
Washington Football Team
Similar to the Jets, Washington is another team who are likely looking to add receiving help to their offense. It is unclear who the starting quarterback will be at the beginning of the 2021 season after Alex Smith was allowed to walk. Will it be someone they have within the franchise already? Will they trade for a starter, draft a quarterback or sign a free agent such as Cam Newton or Ryan Fitzpatrick? Whichever way they turn, the offense needs help to repeat their playoff appearance. McLaurin is a special talent at receiver but he needs help. Tight end Logan Thomas stepped up but the third-highest pass catcher in terms of the below stats came from a change of pace running back J D McKissic and the gap between him and Cam Sims was substantial.
By placing a receiver like Golladay opposite McLaurin, this would give the next QB a range of weapons to work with and wouldn’t allow opposition defenses and coordinators to double and triple-team McLaurin. The cap space is there for Washington to make a move like this with over $41million available to them. With a good defense on the other side of the ball adding more firepower to the offense could help push the team towards the playoffs once again.
Other Potential Options
The Patriots are crying out for offensive help after a very poor season, especially for the pass catchers, Golladay would certainly help them. However, Matt Patricia is back in New England. After his unsuccessful spell in Detroit would Golladay feel comfortable being back at the same team?
Jacksonville has the highest amount of cap space available in the whole league and could easily afford to bring in Golladay to help their high draft capital quarterback (likely Trevor Lawrence). Chark and Shenault are there already so they may add supporting pieces but will that be an established number one receiver?