Amon-Ra St. Brown cannot be pigeonholed as just being a slot receiver

Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown has gotten paid, and a narrative that's too easy can be firmly dismissed too.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Amon-Ra St. Brown has been the biggest draft finds of Brad Holmes' tenure as Detroit Lions' general manager (No. 112 overall in 2021). Over the past three seasons, he is eighth in the league among wide receivers in receiving yards (3,588), he's fifth in receptions (315) and he's 13th in touchdowns (21).

Narrowing to his breakout game as a rookie (h/t to Will Burchfield of 97.1 The Ticket), St. Brown has the most catches in the NFL, he's fourth in yards and he's tied for fourth in touchdowns.

St. Brown, as a fourth-round pick in 2021, is also entering the final year of his rookie contract. He was going to get a big contract extension, and on Wednesday (per multiple reports) the Lions signed him to a four-year deal worth more than $120 million with $77 million guaranteed.

As one of the most productive receivers in the league over the last three seasons, St. Brown absolutely deserved a big contract and it was a matter of time before it got done this offseason.

But that didn't stop what appears to be a Bears' fan, as indicated by the Twitter handle "Let Ryan Poles Eat", from trying to dismiss the deal the Lions gave St. Brown. It was also nicely rebutted by Roar Roundup (an obvious Lions' fan).

Amon-Ra St. Brown can not be pigeonholed as merely a slot receiver

A too-easy thing to say about St. Brown's new contract is "that's a lot of money for a guy who's 'only' a slot receiver." The general narrative about him being only a slot receiver has been on my mind as St. Brown moved toward getting the new contract he did. The opportunity to fully dive into some numbers finally came.

So is St. Brown 'only' a slot receiver? Lets' see what Pro Football Focus says, over regular season snaps.

2021: 817 offensive snaps, 611 in the slot, 183 snaps out wide (74.7 percent slot rate)
2022: 832 offensive snaps, 452 in the slot, 354 snaps out wide (54.3 percent slot rate)
2023: 1,009 offensive snaps, 497 snaps in the slot, 495 snaps out wide (49.2 percent slot rate)

To be fair to the "just a slot guy" detractors, St. Brown ranked highly in slot snaps by both sheer number and percentage of total snaps last season. As a rookie he was mostly a slot guy, but the last two years it has evened out to roughly half of his snaps.

There is definitely room to expand St. Brown's usage as a downfield threat, which is something he has noted in the past. Most of his targets come from 0-9 yards downfield. But that also makes him a great match with Jared Goff, who does best when he can get the ball out of his hands quickly.

There are few, if any, reasons to critique the Lions for making St. Brown the highest-paid wide receiver in the league (for now). Those who care to find one can't logically use the "he's just a slot receiver" crutch. The numbers, and specifically the trend since his rookie season, say otherwise.


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