On October 30th, news broke that the Detroit Lions had traded Golden Tate to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 3rd Round draft pick.
Following the announcement, many fans (and media) quickly hopped on social media to rip Bob Quinn and the Lions organization. Most of those people seemed to believe that trading Tate meant the team was waiving the white flag on the season.
I was absolutely not one of those people. In fact, I praised Quinn (which I rarely do) for making the move and for getting a bigger return than many imagined he could get. My rationale for this was that Tate, who was in the final year of his contract, would demand too much money to stick around in Detroit. Even when Tate was here, this Lions team was never going to compete for a Super Bowl, so it was better to unload him when Quinn did rather than lose him for nothing at the end of the season.
That being said, not having Tate around has left a big hole in the Lions offense and replacing him (for less money) before the 2019 season is crucial.
So, here is a list of three potential free agent receivers who the Lions could get for a reasonable price during the coming offseason.
Let’s start with my personal No. 1 target for the Lions, Adam Humphries. Humphries, who is 25, has been with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the past four seasons. In 57 games (16 starts) during that time, he has 200 catches for 2,161 yards and nine touchdowns.
But this season, he has really turned it on with the Buccaneers. In fact, in 13 games (nine starts), the 5-11, 195 lbs, Humphries has 57 catches for 648 yards and five touchdowns.
What really makes Humphries stand out to me is that he does something that Lions receivers have not been able to do this season, get separation.
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Humphries tied for No. 7 in the league with 3.5 yards of separation per target. In comparison, Kenny Golladay only gets 2.3 yards of separation while Marvin Jones gets 2.2. Both of those are near the bottom of the league.
Tavon Austin is could be an interesting free agent for the Detroit Lions to consider to replace Golden Tate. At 5-8, 179 lbs, does not have great size for the NFL but he does have the speed to get open if put in the right situation.
Since having respectable seasons in 2015 and 2016 with the Rams, Austin has almost fallen off of the map. In fact, this season in Dallas, he has just seven catches for 130 yards two touchdowns in six games.
Though I am not in love with Austin, he does manage to get separation. In 2016, he was able to get 3.3 yards of separation per target, which was top 20 in the league.
Cordarrelle Patterson is kind of the oddball of the three on this list because of his size but he is a player that could help the Lions in 2019. At 6-2, 220 lbs, Patterson has decent size and has proven a valuable threat from time to time since entering the league in 2013.
So far this season, he has 17 receptions for 224 yards and three touchdowns with the New England Patriots. Patterson’s best season came in 2016 when he caught 52 passes for 453 yards with the Minnesota Vikings.
As far as creating separation goes, Patterson has not qualified for the past two seasons (not enough targets) but he was No. 17 in the league in 2016 with 3.2 yards of separation per target.
As you can see, the common theme here is SEPARATION! For Matthew Stafford to be effective, he needs his receivers to give him a bigger window. Adding one of these three players would help the cause.