Detroit Lions Free Agent Primer: Wide receiver

Posted Mar 7, 2013

Which Detroit Lions are under contract, hitting free agency and who will be on the market?

The Lions are on the lookout for an athletic outside receiver to pair opposite Calvin Johnson next season.

Former Tennessee receiver Justin Hunter was in Allen Park for a pre-draft visit on Thursday and the Lions will do their homework on all of the potential draftable receivers over the next month and a half.

But first comes free agency March 12, and the there will be some options available for the Lions.

Position: Receiver

Lions under contract: Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Ryan Broyles, Mike Thomas, Devin Thomas, Brian Robiskie, Terrence Austin, Troy Burrell, Dominique Curry, Patrick Edwards, Lance Long, Chastin West

Kassim Osgood

Lions free agents: Kassim Osgood, Stefan Logan, Kris Durham (Exclusive Rights)

Who’s out there: Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings, Brian Hartline, Donnie Avery, Brandon Gibson, Ted Ginn Jr., Josh Cribbs, Michael Jenkins, Mohamed Massaquoi, Louis Murphy, Domenik Hixon

Analysis: Like I did with the running backs, I’ve left a few big names like Wes Welker and Danny Amendola off the list because it seems the Lions have more of a need for the outside receiver left vacate by the release of Titus Young. The Lions seem to like Nate Burleson, Ryan Broyles and Mike Thomas in the slot.

Burleson can also play on the outside and the Lions will look closely at some internal options in Edwards and Durham.

When I was down in New Orleans for the Super Bowl I saw Jennings doing an interview on Radio Row and I let myself wonder for a second what that might look like opposite Johnson. Then the realities of big free-agent contract kicked it.

Wallace and Jennings are the big-money tickets in this class and the Lions don’t appear to be in the market for an expensive No. 2 receiver.

There have been reports that Hartline is close to a deal to stay with the Dolphins for around $6 million per season, which is a terrific deal for him.

The Vikings recently cut Jenkins in a salary cap move. The nine-year veteran has caught at least 40 passes in five of his last six seasons and has good size and speed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds.

Gibson and Hixon would be solid choices for a complimentary role. Gibson caught 51 passes for almost 700 yards and five touchdowns in 2012 and Hixon was over 500 yards with a couple scores.

Both Ginn Jr. and Cribbs also make sense because they’d also fulfill a need in the return game.