Star UFL wide receiver feels lined up to be put on Detroit Lions' radar

A former NFL coach with ties to their front office seems sure to put a star UFL receiver on the Lions' radar.
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The UFL had its playoffs this weekend, and Sunday brought the championship game of the XFL conference between the St. Louis Battlehawks and the San Antonio Brahmas. The Battlehawks have been a testament to football passion that still exists in their home city, and the Brahmas are notably coached by long-time former NFL coach Wade Phillips.

The Brahmas won Sunday's game 25-15, earning themselves a spot in the league championship game against the Birmingham Stallions next weekend. But while Phillips spoke with Brock Huard on the field after the win, Battlehawks' wide receiver Hakeem Butler was in the vicinity.

Butler had six receptions for 59 yards in the loss to the Brahmas. For the regular season he finished with 45 receptions for 652 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games. He made the All-UFL team, and he was named the league's Offensive Player of the Year.

Butler was a 2019 fourth-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals. He missed his entire rookie season with a broken hand and never played in a game for them. He played in two regular season games for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2020, with a reception. The Eagles tried to make him into a tight end, then waived him in 2021.

Butler played in the CFL in 2022, before landing with the Battlehawks in the then-XFL in 2023. He parlayed a nice campaign (51 catches for 599 yards, eight touchdowns) into an opportunity with the Pittsburgh Steelers in last year's training camp, but an injury led to him being released.

Wade Phillips may fully put Hakeem Butler on the Lions' radar

Butler is easy to put on any list of UFL players who may interest the Lions once the league's season is all the way over and players can be signed on June 17. But Phillips' words about telling "everyone in the NFL that I talk to" that Butler should be playing in that league could easily include the Lions.

General manager Brad Holmes and assistant general manager Ray Agnew, as we know, came from the Los Angeles Rams' organization to Detroit in 2021. Phillips' last job in the NFL was as Rams' defensive coordinator from 2017-2019, so people he talks to in the NFL may very well include Holmes and/or Agnew.

Butler (6-foot-5, 227 pounds) also fits the size template and contested catch ability the Lions' lack at wide receiver right now.

Butler has more than earned a shot in an NFL training camp somewhere, even without Phillips set to endorse him to whoever he can. The Lions should easily have interest, and they may be the spot unless Butler wants to sign elsewhere.

Update, 5:25 p.m. ET: According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Carolina Panthers are expected to have Butler in for a workout. So the Lions have some competition, as expected.


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