The Detroit Lions lost All-Pro return man Jamal Agnew in free agency this offseason (Jacksonville), which means head coach Dan Campbell and new special teams coordinator Dave Fipp are on the lookout for a new return man in 2021.
One of the players signed this offseason in free agency with a chance to fill the role is veteran wide receiver Kalif Raymond.
Undrafted out of Holy Cross in 2016, the 5-foot-8, 182-pound Raymond has spent time with five teams, most recently appearing in 23 games for the Tennessee Titans the past two seasons. In 2020, he handled both punts and kickoffs for the Titans, averaging 9.0 yards on 23 punt returns and 18.3 yards on 15 kickoffs. He averaged 11.3 yards per punt return and 22.4 yards per kickoff return in 2019.
"I think I'm always going to be prepared, man," Raymond said Thursday about stepping into a return role in Detroit. "I just think with the opportunity that presents itself, I definitely want to take advantage of it. If they ask me to go back there, I'm ready and I'm excited."
But Raymond said he's not just a one-trick pony and is excited to compete for a role on offense too. Raymond played a career-high 251 offensive snaps for the Titans last year, more than doubling his workload from the previous three seasons. He caught nine passes for 187 yards. He has 4.3 speed in the 40.
The Lions have completely revamped their receiver corps this offseason with a lot of roles open for competition.
"Overall, I'm trying to make sure I'm well-rounded, so going in the slot or outside or anywhere, I'm ready to do so," Raymond said. "I've been training for it."
Raymond said he likes the fact that the Lions receiver room is filled with players who've handled some kind of adversity throughout their careers and are better for it. He said there's a different level of grit and guys coming in with chips on their shoulders. He's excited to see how the room performs, and if he can find his niche somewhere within it.
"I've prepared myself," Raymond said. "It's been five years and I'm excited to see my entire game come to fruition and I think I'm ready."