3 trades to make the Detroit Lions championship contenders in 2023

The Detroit Lions are the standing favorites to win the NFC North, but here are three trades that could make them legitimate title contenders this year.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Michael Pittman, Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Trade Proposal No. 3

Lions Get: WR Michael Pittman
Colts get: 2024 second-round pick

The wide receiver corps for the Lions, this side of Amon-Ra St. Brown, has to be a lingering concern going into the season. Two mid-grade veterans (Marvin Jones, Josh Reynolds) and a seventh-round rookie (Antoine Green) probably aren't it. And if we're being brutally honest, anything notable Jameson Williams does after he's back from his six-game suspension should be considered a bonus.

The Colts are entering a new era under head coach Shane Steichen, and with a rookie quarterback in Anthony Richardson all but locked in to start right away. The future looks bright, but some growing pains and a lot of losses can be expected this season.

Pittman, a second-round pick in 2020, is entering the final year of his rookie contract. His resume is fine, not great. But when you consider the shoddy level of quarterback play he was subjected to, the last couple seasons take on a new light.

2021: 88 receptions (129 targets), 1,082 yards, six touchdowns
2022: 99 receptions (141 targets), 925 yards, four touchdowns; 70.2 percent catch rate (career-best)

Pittman was also a college teammate of Amon Ra-St. Brown's at USC for two years (2018, 2019), which may bolster his fit for the Lions with a personal endorsement (?) from the "Sun God".

Purely on the field, Pittman is a big target (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) who can separate enough and win contested catch situations. In other words, he's exactly what the Lions need from an "X" receiver.

And, as it currently looks, what they'll be trying to piece together this year around Williams' suspension.

Spotrac hasn't adjusted their estimate of Pittman's market value of $18.4 million per year (a four-year, $73.67 million deal). That's definitely a nod to his youth (25 years old, 26 in October), and a perception of untapped potential the Colts haven't helped him realize due to their quarterback carousel.

The Colts surely want to see more of how Pittman and Richardson work together before doing anything with Pittman--be it a new contract or entertaining a trade. But that a deal is not done yet, when they've done it with others by this point in their rookie contracts, opens the door to him not being considered a part of the future in Indianapolis at any point in the next few months.

The Lions will have a better idea where they are at wide receiver when the October trade deadline looms closer, and if they're good with it or not. The Colts will also better know where they are in terms of how they feel about Pittman by then. A trade before Week 1 is possible though, if the Colts are willing, and the Lions should have Pittman on their radar until further notice.