Lions Could Have Interesting Decision to Make with Marvin Jones in Offseason
The Lions announced earlier today that wide receiver Marvin Jones has been placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
Jones will end a solid 2019 campaign with 62 catches, 779 yards and nine touchdown grabs.
Next year will be the fifth and final season for the eighth-year pro under his current contract that he signed with Detroit in 2016.
It was general manager Bob Quinn's first big free-agent acquisition and arguably his best to date.
Jones has averaged $8 million a year over the life of the contract, and has only cost about half of what most of today's top wide receivers are making.
Not bad for a wideout that is a decent top option and a great second target.
Next year, Jones' cap hit will be $9.2 million, with $2.7 million in dead cap if traded or in the unlikely event he were to be released.
So, as with any veteran in a contract year, the question will always be: Should the individual's team try to trade him while his value is high?
The strategy sounds a lot like the "Patriot Way."
It's a conversation that is likely being had about cornerback Darius Slay as well.
Their situations are a little different, however.
Jones' name being involved in trade speculation wouldn't be the first time, either.
Detroit Free Press writers Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez both mentioned Jones as a potential trade piece before the season even started.
Jones will be 30 at the start of next year.
It's important to note that fellow wide receiver Kenny Golladay will also soon be looking for a new contract, as he will be in the last year of his rookie deal in 2020.
It's unlikely the Lions will be able to afford both.
Golladay continues to impress, and has appeared to take over as the team's top pass-catching target.
Going into Week 14, Jones had the second-highest contested catch rate in the NFL.
According to Next Gen Stats, Jones had the third-lowest yards of separation in the NFL behind only Golladay and former Lions wideout Golden Tate (minimum of 35 targets).
There was a reason Matthew Stafford had the highest percentage of tight-window throws in the league before his injury.
His two best receivers don't create separation, yet they're able to win one-on-one battles with outstanding body control.
Obviously, that style of play can win in the NFL, but it doesn't make life easy on a quarterback.
Maybe the Lions would be interested in finding a guy that can win with separation. Fortunately for them, receivers aren't overly difficult to find nowadays.
The 2020 NFL Draft, in fact, is loaded with talent at wideout.
Not only that, but the receiver position is one where you commonly see an instant impact made in year No. 1.
The college game has become a receiver factory, and the NFL rules greatly favor offensive players.
In my opinion, receivers are one of the most overpaid positions in the league.
Even the best receivers can't win games by themselves. Quick, name the last great wideout to win a Super Bowl. Bet you can't name one.
Ultimately, losing a player of Jones' caliber would hurt the Lions in the immediate future.
However, they could gain a much cheaper option with more upside via the draft pick they net in a trade for his services.
It's difficult to say what the Lions could get in exchange for a one-year rental in Jones.
If they're able to land a third-rounder like they did in the Tate trade with the Eagles, they would have to strongly consider moving him.
His relatively cheap contract should be enticing enough for a team looking for receiver help.
Who knows what's in store for the Lions' top brass going into 2020.
However, one thing is certain: the Lions need to find a way to get better and fast.
It's a short-term gamble to move Jones, but it could end up being a wise decision if the proper corresponding move is made.