Detroit Lions Add to Wide Receiver Depth With Mike Thomas Trade

By Chris Katje

Despite Hurricane Sandy pushing the NFL trade deadline to Thursday, the Detroit Lions made a move today that should solidify their team going forward. The Lions have agreed to a deal for Mike Thomas, a wide receiver from the Jacksonville Jaguars. An undisclosed draft pick is the only thing the team is trading back to the Jaguars as compensation.

Thomas has 13 receptions on the season for 80 yards, but has failed to find a place in Jacksonville after signing a contract extension. Last season, Thomas signed a three year $18 million deal, with $9 million guaranteed. The Lions will be hoping Thomas can regain the form he showed in his sophomore season.

In 2010, Thomas had his best year with 66 receptions for 820 yards, and four touchdowns. In his almost four year career, Thomas has 171 receptions for 1768 yards, while also scoring six times.

The Detroit Lions lost one of their starting wide receivers in Nate Burleson to a leg injury. Since that injury, the Lions have gone out and signed Brian Robiskie, and relied heavily on backups. The good news for the Lions was they have two capable backup receivers in Titus Young and Ryan Broyles. I wrote in a recent article about Broyles and Young needing to step up in Burleson’s absence. Broyles and Young both had touchdowns in Week 8’s win versus the Seattle Seahawks.

The Lions get a reliable experienced receiver to fill in at the number two, three, or four spot. There also is a strong possibility Thomas will see punt return or kick return duties for the Lions. Stefan Logan has struggled to return to his strong 2010 season as a return man for the Lions. Thomas was the Jaguars kick returner in his rookie season. In the 2009 season, Thomas had 26 returns for 644 yards, for a 24.8 yard average. Thomas has 75 career punt returns for 620 yards, and one touchdown. The return man’s punt return average is 8.3 yards.

Thomas was drafted by the Jaguars in the fourth round of 2009. As a wide receiver at Arizona University, Thomas had 259 receptions for 3231 yards. Thomas set a PAC-10 and team record with his 259 receptions. The new Lions receiver started 39 of 48 games in college.

Week 9 features the Lions playing Thomas’s former team in the Jaguars. The Lions will likely use Thomas as a third or fourth receiver to start and could feature the newly acquired player as the primary punt returner as well. The 2012 season should be a good indicator whether the Lions overpaid for Thomas, depending on what role they put the $18 million man in.

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