After stepping into the first real opportunity of his career last year, is Kalif Raymond in line for a full breakout in 2022?
As the Detroit Lions had one wide receiver free agent signing from last offseason not make it to the season on the roster (Breshad Perriman) and another get hurt in Week 1 (Tyrell Williams), Kalif Raymond got an opportunity to play and had the best season of his career (48 receptions for 576 yards and four touchdowns).
Off his stepping up the way he did last season, the Lions have brought Raymond back on a two-year deal. He also averaged 11.2 yards per punt return last season, which was top-5 in the league among those with at least 20 returns.
Raymond’s role for next season is somewhat up in the air. Even after re-signing him, re-signing Josh Reynolds and signing DJ Chark, the Lions still may come out of the draft with a wide receiver as they keep an eye on the future. But based on giving him a two-year deal worth “up to” $9.5 million, the Lions clearly value Raymond, whatever his contribution looks like.
Is Kalif Raymond in line for a total breakout in 2022?
Ryan Fowler of The Draft Network has a list of five under-the-radar free agent signings that could make Day-1 impact. Raymond is smack dab in the middle of the list.
"As much a breakout star as Amon-Ra St. Brown was for Detroit last fall, Raymond wasn’t far behind. A do-it-all talent with success shown in the slot or on the perimeter, adding D.J. Chark into the receivers room presents Jared Goff, or whoever aligns under center in Week 1, a nice group of playmakers on the perimeter. He’ll enter camp as WR3, but has the ability to handle the targets and workload of a featured weapon within an NFL offense."
In the 16 games he played last season, Raymond had a snap rate of at least 63 percent in 15 of them. Two of his four touchdowns came in one game (Week 4 against the Chicago Bears), and with two 100-yard games he also had less than 40 receiving yards 11 times. So there seems to be room for more, and better consistency.
Raymond also had four carries for 28 yards last season, with 191 snaps out of the slot (per Player Profiler). He has a place as a versatile weapon for the Lions, but time (and the draft) will tell if he’ll have a real path to building on his 2021 campaign next season.