Identifying 6 Nate Burleson Replacement Options for the Detroit Lions

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Aug 9, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson (13) on the sidelines in the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the New York Jets at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

It wouldn’t be a real Detroit Lions season if there weren’t a potentially season-ending injury to a player days after his best game as a Lion.

That’s the situation, as Burleson, who after three games was on pace for 101 catches and 1,275 yards, now appears likely to miss most or all of the remainder of the 2013 season with a broken arm suffered early Tuesday morning in a single-car crash.

Burleson’s value to the team is greater than just his on-field production. He’s one of the most recognized leaders in the locker room and one of the voices of the team, both internally and to the media. Burleson is one of those rare players who has endeared himself so much to fans and teammates alike, his injury’s impact on the team seems secondary to his own well-being.

Luckily, Burleson appears to be okay aside from the arm, which will require surgery. So that leaves us with the business end to discuss. Burleson is a great guy, and obviously there’s no replacing a player like him. But with the knowledge that he’s okay, the Lions need to figure out how they’re going to cover for his production, which averaged roughly six receptions for 80 yards per game.

The Lions have a number 0f options here. They can sign someone, trade for someone, or just try to fill the void with guys they have on the roster already. There’s no right answer, and there’s  a certain level of risk and reward to any option, so I’ll break each down as we go, and you can make your own determinations.