The Lions can bring back Kenny Golladay next season for about $16 million by using the franchise tag. Or they can let him walk -- which isn't out of the question after Golladay turned down an extension in 2020 worth as much as $19 million per year, according to Adam Schefter.
"Last year, these two sides had discussions about a long-term extension and Kenny Golladay turned down somewhere around $18, $19 million a year, depending on who you want to believe," Schefter reported Monday on ESPN's Get Up. "I think there’s a chance here, with a new regime in Detroit, that they could opt not to tag him at all, which would allow him to become one of the most coveted free agents out there.
"We’ll see whether the Lions do decide to use that tag by the 4 p.m. deadline on Tuesday. I think there’s a chance they won’t, a chance they won’t."
Golladay has been clear about his desire to stay in Detroit -- and also about his desire to get paid. He could fetch at least $18 million per year on the open market. If he turned down that much (or more) from Bob Quinn and the rest of the Lions' former regime, it was likely an issue of term -- or maybe guaranteed money.
Only five receivers in the NFL currently make more than $19 million per year: DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Keenan Allen, Amari Cooper and Michael Thomas, all of whom have at least four Pro Bowl nods or at least two All-Pro nods. Golladay has been to one Pro Bowl. He also missed most of last season due to injuries.
If Brad Holmes and the Lions don't see a path toward signing Golladay to a long-term deal, they might be better off letting him walk. They could address numerous other holes on their roster with the $16 million they'd save, and the draft is deep at receiver. Holmes already said last week that he and head coach Dan Campbell 'feel confident' they can overhaul the receiver room in one offseason.
An answer on Golladay isn't guaranteed to come by Tuesday. With the NFL yet to finalize the salary cap for 2021, the franchise tag deadline is liable to get pushed back -- and Golladay's fate feels like a decision that will come down to the wire.
"We want to make the best decision for the Lions, and sometimes those decisions take a little bit longer," Holmes said last week. "The great thing is that we have a process in place that we believe in, that we’ve been firm in. That process can go all the way up to when you have to make the decision. We’re not going to rush it."