Every day we’ll take a look at one of the Detroit Lions heading for free agency, what he has meant to the team before and a prognosis on whether or not he’ll be back with the club in 2014.
To view the entire series to date, click this link.
Free agent to be: Nate Burleson
Position: Wide Receiver
Years in the league: 11
What he made last season: $4,031,641 (cap number); $2,000,000 (base salary and cash value)
What he did last season: Burleson was fairly productive when he played in 2013. He missed seven games due to his pizza-related broken forearm, the second straight season he missed a chunk of games due to a freak injury after breaking his leg in 2012. When he did play, he had 39 receptions for 461 yards and one touchdown. His most important stat, though, was his reception rate. He caught 73.6 percent of passes thrown to him, one of the best catch rates in the NFL. He was also one of Detroit’s emotional leaders and someone a lot of younger players turned to for guidance.
His potential market value: Medium to high. Coming off of two seasons of injury -- although both were of the freakish variety -- could drive his value down a little bit but he still can be a valuable possession receiver in the league. He told me a couple of days before he was released by Detroit that he was as energetic and healthy as he has ever been and wanted to start his offseason workout training earlier than normal to take advantage of it. A team looking for a cheap veteran receiver will probably try to sign Burleson, although the depth at the position both in free agency and the draft could be another reason for a dip in value.
Will he fit the Lions still: Apparently not. Considering Burleson was willing to restructure his contract to stay in Detroit and made it extremely well known he wanted to finish his career with the Lions, the team released him without making an effort to try and keep him at all. While there could be a very, very, very small chance he returns if the Lions don’t like what they see in free agency and Burleson doesn’t find another home, that seems like an unlikely proposition.
What happens: Burleson can sign at any time because he was a released veteran, but it doesn’t seem like there is a massive rush at this point. Dallas could be an option for Burleson, mostly because the Cowboys brought in Scott Linehan to be the team’s “passing game coordinator” after he was fired from Detroit as the team’s offensive coordinator. Look for a team that has a young receiving corps looking for an older leader to be teams that are interested in Burleson.