It’s not surprising, but it is official. On Thursday, Detroit Lions interim head coach Darrell Bevell said wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hip) will not play in Week 17. He has not played since Week 8 when he suffered a hip injury, and has never seemed especially close to playing.
Golladay also missed the first two games of the season with a hamstring injury. So he wound up playing just five games this season, totaling 20 catches for 338 yards and two touchdowns (with two 100-yard games). He only played 18 snaps in Week 8 against the Colts before being injured, with zero catches on four targets. So Golladay essentially played four games, in a contract year.
Golladay will now head into free agency off an injury-dampened season. But in 2018 (70 catches for 1,063 yards, 5 TD) and 2019 (65 catches for 1,190 yards, 11 TD) he showed what he can do. His 2019 production stands out even more since Matthew Stafford missed the second half of the season with a back injury. A full 16-game pace based on the eight Stafford played was 70 receptions for 1,280 yards and 14 touchdowns for Golladay in 2019.
Via ESPN’s Michael Rothstein, Bevell acknowledged how hard it’ll be to evaluate Golladay’s future.
“It’s a very hard season to assess what he was able to do,” Bevell said. “He wasn’t able to be out there enough for us this year to really, I think, make those steps that I was hoping that he’d be able to make. So right now, obviously he’s not there.”
“Does he have the ability to be there? I think he does, and obviously that’s what we’re looking for from him. But the most important thing for him is to get healthy, get his body right and then be able to handle the rigors of a 16-game-plus season.”
Golladay will be part of a deep free agent class at wide receiver. But these five teams make sense as possible landing spots for him.
5 teams who could sign Kenny Golladay in 2021 NFL Free Agency
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars will have a new GM and head coach, armed with the most cap space in the league and 12 picks in April’s draft. Wide receiver might be one are of lesser need, with D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault, Keelan Cole and Collin Johnson on the depth chart. But Golladay would instantly become the best wide receiver for Jacksonville, as they load up around presumptive No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence. The discount he’s likely to come with keeps all options open to fill other holes on the roster in free agency.
4. Detroit Lions
The Lions will have a new GM, a new head coach and possibly a new quarterback if the new regime entertains trading Stafford. They could use the franchise tag to retain Golladay, if only to see what he does in 2021 without committing to multiple years. Said new regime will of course not be the one that drafted Golladay, which be a factor in a decision to let him walk. But there’s a strong case for the Lions to make some effort to keep him, with the tag in their back pocket.
3. Washington Football Team
Terry McLaurin is a keeper, but otherwise Washington lacks potency at wide receiver. They pursued Amari Cooper last offseason, and even offered him more money than he got to return to Dallas. So it’s easy to assume they’ll be involved in the free agent market at wide receiver this offseason.
Washington has to figure out who the quarterback will be next season. They have the cap space to make multiple options possible, with a draft pick potentially in play too. Golladay and McLaurin would be a formidable wide receiver duo for whoever is under center.
2. New England Patriots
Tom Brady’s departure fully exposed something that had become readily visible in recent years. The Patriots lack formidable weapons in the passing game, and the shell that’s been Cam Newton couldn’t cover it up this year.
New England also has to figure out their quarterback situation, above all else on their offseason agenda. Adding talent around said quarterback is also a top priority, and they’ll have just over $62.4 million in cap space (via Over The Cap) to reload the roster.
Golladay looks like a perfect buy-low candidate for any team in free agency. He’s surely on Bill Belichick’s radar.
1. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have managed their cap space better than any team the last few years, never spending big just because they could. So they sit with the third-most cap space in the league for 2021 right now, with a quarterback question to address if Philip Rivers is not back.
T.Y. Hilton is set to become a free agent too. While the Colts stand as a likely landing spot for their long-time wide receiver, they could re-sign Hilton and get a deal done with Golladay if they wanted to. If Golladay was added and Hilton was re-signed, the Colts’ wide receiver depth chart could look something like this.
Michael Pittman Jr.
Parris Campbell (if healthy)
Zach Pascal (if re-signed)