Report: Lions struck out in effort to land RB Devonta Freeman

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Devonta Freeman

Allen Park — According to multiple reports, the Detroit Lions went shopping at the trade deadline, but left the store empty-handed. 

A day after it was reported the team made a play for Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris, the NFL Network is stating the Lions had extensive talks with the Atlanta Falcons about acquiring running back Davonta Freeman. 

Once one of the game's premier dual-threat running backs, Freeman's play has declined the previous two years. A string of injuries (knee, foot and groin), limited him to just two games in 2018 and he has yet to shake off the rust this year, averaging a career-worst 3.4 yards per carry behind one of the league's worst offensive lines. 

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Where Freeman has continued to thrive is as a pass-catcher. After averaging 54 catches from 2015-17, he's on pace to haul in 70 passes and a career-best six touchdowns this season. 

Given Freeman's contract, the Lions potentially viewed the move as a stopgap rental while starter Kerryon Johnson recovers from his recent knee surgery.

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Freeman is in the second year of a five-year contract he signed in 2017. Had the Lions acquired him, they would have been responsible for the remaining $1.88 million in base salary for 2019. But with that salary jumping to $6.5 million in 2020, retaining him behind this year would have been difficult to justify. 

By missing out on Freeman, the Lions will move forward with its backfield committee of Tra Carson, J.D. McKissic and rookie Ty Johnson. In the first game without Kerryon, Detorit's backs combined to rush for 62 yards on 23 carries. The team's 2.4 yards per carry was a season-low.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers