Five free agents who could replace Calvin
The Lions needed to find wide receiver help in free agency before Calvin Johnson retired on Tuesday, but now that it’s official, the need increases significantly.
For now, the only receiver on the roster with more than 20 career catches is Golden Tate. TJ Jones has just 10 catches, and Corey Fuller, who was tendered as an exclusive-rights free agent last week, has just 18.
The Lions can look for help at the position in the draft in April, but here are some of the top receivers available in free agency, which begins at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Marvin Jones, Bengals: The 25-year-old is considered the top receiver available because he’s still improving and is a proven red-zone threat — he had 10 touchdowns in 2013. Jones will be a hot commodity after posting 65 catches for 816 yards and four touchdowns as Cincinnati’s No. 2 receiver last year. At 6-foot-2, he could be a big-body replacement for Johnson.
Travis Benjamin, Browns: The 5-foot-10 Benjamin wouldn’t remind anyone of Johnson physically, but he has the speed to give the Lions a deep threat. After having a career high of 18 catches his first three seasons, Benjamin became a true factor in Cleveland in 2015 with 68 catches for 966 yards and five touchdowns. He’s just 26.
Anquan Boldin, 49ers: This would obviously be a short-term fix as Boldin turns 36 next season. However, he was still productive in 2015 with 69 catches for 789 yards and four touchdowns. He also spent a year with Jim Caldwell in Baltimore and is a fan of the Lions’ coach. He’s 6-foot-1, but plays bigger and is as competitive as any receiver when making a play on the ball.
Rishard Matthews, Dolphins: The 25-year-old is coming off his best season, posting 43 catches for 662 yards and four touchdowns in just 11 games. He’d be best as a No. 2 or 3 option, but could be a reasonable value.
Jermaine Kearse, Seahawks: The Lions’ last pursuit of a Seattle free-agent receiver worked out well, and Kearse has some similarities to Golden Tate. In each of his four seasons, Kearse has increased his receptions and receiving yardage. He’s 26 and 6-foot-1.