Player: Luke Willson
2018 statistics with Lions: 14 games played, 13 receptions, 87 yards, 0 touchdowns
2019 team: Oakland Raiders
Contract terms: 1-year / $895,000
Remember when you thought that tight end Luke Willson had the chance for a prolific, breakout year after signing with the Lions prior to the 2018 season? Yeah, us neither.
The LaSalle, Ont. native was a flop in his only season with Detroit, catching a career low 13 passes and failing to top 100 receiving yards. Aside from some decent blocking in both the run and pass games, Willson offered the Lions none of the seam-stretching, red zone prowling skill they were hoping for.
It just didn’t work out, and Willson’s struggles were emblematic of the entire tight end unit’s struggles in 2018. The Lions likely gave little consideration to bringing him back, even before they made major additions to the tight end room in both free agency and the draft.
With the Raiders, Willson joins what on paper looks like an even more suspect group of tight ends than the one the Lions housed last year. Considering that Darren Waller, Derek Carrier and Paul Butler are the other veterans at the position, maybe it’s not a surprise that Willson was brought in.
If Willson still has some juice and sticks on the roster come September, his main competition could come from rookie fourth round pick Foster Moreau. Moreau was primarily an H-back style tight end at LSU, but could emerge as the Raiders primary receiving threat in the unit.
The Raiders have undergone a significant amount of changes on both sides of the ball over the last two years, but the tight end corps remains one of the thinnest position groups on the roster. Even if Willson makes the final cut in the East Bay, it’s hard to see him doing much to remedy that.