Identifying 6 Nate Burleson Replacement Options for the Detroit Lions

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Matt Willis (free agent)

Aug 9, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Matt Willis (12) catches a pass in the end zone for a touchdown while being defended by New York Jets running back Chad Spann (30) in the second quarter of a preseason game at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

You may remember Matt Willis as the guy who missed the cut for the Lions’ final 53-man roster, even though it looked like he’d performed well enough to earn a spot.

Maybe it’s time for another look?

The greatest benefit to signing Willis is that he spent training camp with the Lions, and so he knows the system well enough to slide in quicker than most free agents. The drawback is that his ceiling is most likely very limited. Willis is 29, and his opportunities for a breakout season are behind him.

That said, Willis would be an inexpensive option, and possibly even relatively productive relatively quickly. But would he beat out Ryan Broyles or even Kris Durham on the depth chart? If his preseason performance is to be believed, he can. But when are preseason performances ever to be believed?

Risk: Low

Willis is a veteran minimum guy with no baggage. Doesn’t get lower-risk than that.

Reward: Moderate

Willis seemed to catch everything that came his way in the preseason. If there’s one thing Stafford really needs on the team right now (especially with Burleson out), it’s someone — anyone — with sure hands.