Recently, the Detroit Lions released their unofficial Week 1 depth chart. While a few things stand out, the lack of wide receiver depth should leave plenty of fans unsettled.
With Jameson Williams away from the team serving a six-game gambling suspension, Marvin Jones, Kalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds are left to pick up the slack behind star receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. On the surface, it doesn't appear that bad, plus the group of receivers will be aided in the passing game by rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs and the group of tight ends. That being said, if something were to happen to St. Brown it would be a serious setback.
St. Brown had an impressive 2022 season where he garnered 146 targets and posted 1,161 receiving yards on 106 receptions. He also had six touchdowns, working primarily out of the slot. DJ Chark finally eventually emerged as a downfield threat when he was healthy enough down the stretch last season, opening up the intermediate area for St. Brown to thrive.
The Detroit Lions may be haunted by their lack of depth at wide receiver
Beyond St. Brown and the aforementioned trio of Jones, Raymond and Reynolds, the Lions had one or two spots (with Williams' suspension opening up a spot) on the initial 53-man roster for a wide receiver to grab, Rookie seventh-round pick Antoine Green was the choice, with Dylan Drummond waived but brought back on the practice squad and Chase Cota waived/injured.
If general manager Brad Holmes has questions about Detroit's depth or lack thereof at receiver, he should move swiftly and consider making a blockbuster deal for Buccaneers' wide receiver Mike Evans. Evans, 30, has topped 1,000 yards in each of his nine NFL seasons. But his time in Tampa Bay may be coming to an end, as he's entering a contract year, and his agent recently released a statement saying contract discussions will cease the day before season starts (Sept. 9). Evans may become a prime trade target ahead closer to the deadline, but if Detroit is serious about making a postseason run this year adding him sooner-than-later would be more beneficial.
Getting a player acclimated with a new offensive scheme can take some time. It's been compared to learning a new language, so the sooner a player starts learning it and building chemistry with a new quarterback, the better.
Landing Evans would be costly, in terms of a draft pick or two in a trade and a looming contract extension he'd want.
Regarding the extension, I would be leery about backing up a Brinks truck to Evans' front door, knowing the Detroit Lions will have a bunch of young talent to get signed long-term soon. Still, even if he's a straight rental, he may be the difference in winning the NFC North or not. He's a bona fide No. 1 receiver and an elite outside threat, which would fill a void for the Lions. That void, depending on how quickly Williams can hit the ground running when he's able to play, could be one that haunts the Lions all season.