Could the Detroit Lions sign a wide receiver familiar to Dan Campbell?

The Lions may be in the market for a veteran wide receiver, and a connection to Dan Campbell may be meaningful to that pursuit now.
Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions may be in the market for a veteran wide receiver after the draft. If they are, the best available options are quickly being signed (Tyler Boyd, Odell Beckham Jr.), or at least making the rounds to visit teams (Zay Jones, Marques Valdez-Scantling), now that the calendar has flipped to May.

Behind Amon-Ra St. Brown, the Lions have a lot of promise and projection on the wide receiver depth chart. Jameson Williams is unproven, as is Donovan Peoples-Jones, Antoine Green, etc. So adding a proven commodity might be nice, and we know how much they value fit, familiarity and those kind of intangible qualities as well as talent and production.

In a couple places, namely Pride of Detroit and Detroit Sports Nation, the same wide receiver name has been mentioned. On his list of 10 free agents the Lions should consider after the draft, Erik Schlitt of Pride of Detroit named some wide receivers and landed on the aforementioned player.

Former Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas.

"Thomas was drafted by the Saints in 2016, the same year Lions coach Dan Campbell joined New Orleans as a tight ends coach, and they worked in the same offense for five seasons before the coach left for Detroit. While Thomas has dominated at times during his career, and is the ideal WR-X, his health has been a problem since 2020. Over the last three seasons, he played in just 13 games, and his yards per route run is half what it was when he was an All-Pro. While his days as a WR1, are behind him, that may be just fine for the Lions because they don’t need him to be."
-Erik Schlitt, Pride of Detroit

Detroit Lions rumors: Would Michael Thomas be a fit at all?

It feels like a very long time ago Thomas set the NFL single-season record for receptions with 149. Granted it was 2019, but he has also only played 20 games over the last four seasons. He missed the entire 2021 season due to an ankle injury, after the injury cost him time the previous season, then foot and knee injuries limited him the last two seasons. The Saints, as easily expected, released him in March.

In a vacuum, Thomas (6-foot-3, 212 pounds) fits the physical profile and skill set the Lions don't quite have at wide receiver right now. At this point he's regarded as the best available free agent wide receiver, so his market may really start to move now. He's not going to get a lot of money, and a one-year deal is a lock.

Thomas' days as a No. 1 receiver are done, and his decline is why he's available in May. The bigger question is how he regards himself at this point, in terms of role in an offense. Even if he's not paid like a top receiver, he may think if he can stay healthy he can re-establish himself along that line.

But if Thomas is willing to embrace a more minor role, as he'll have to most anywhere he'd sign at this point, the Lions may stand out to him based on Campbell's presence.

It's worth mentioning the Lions aren't likely to love the attention Thomas occasionally draws on Twitter, but he would be a low-risk, potential solid-reward signing if there's mutual interest.


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