* With the Super Bowl in the past and the 2020 season in the books, NBC Sports Washington's Ethan Cadeaux and Ryan Homler take a look at 10 potential free agents that the Washington Football Team could benefit from signing this offseason. First up: Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions
2017 third-round pick from Northern Illinois; Unrestricted free agent; 6-foot-4 | 214 lbs. | 27 years old
Last March, in his first offseason as the head coach of the Washington Football Team, Ron Rivera offered wide receiver Amari Cooper a five-year contract worth north of $100 million. Cooper didn't accept the offer and ultimately re-signed with Dallas for less money, citing the chance to contend for a Super Bowl.
One year and an NFC East title later, Washington is still seeking another big-time wide receiver to pair opposite Terry McLaurin. And, although Rivera missed out on Cooper in 2020, the head coach said last week the team will be in the running for big-time free agents.
The 2021 free agent class is unusually full of talented wideouts. But, perhaps nobody is better -- or would be a better fit in Washington -- than current Lions pass-catcher Kenny Golladay.
Golladay played in just five games last season due to injury, but the 27-year-old had been plenty durable before this past campaign. When Golladay has played over the past few seasons, there have only been a handful of wide receivers across the NFL more productive than him.
In both 2018 and 2019, Golladay topped 65 receptions and finished with over 1,000 yards receiving. In 2019, the Lions pass-catcher led the NFL with 11 receiving touchdowns. What's even more impressive about that last part is that Lions star quarterback Matt Stafford, now with the Rams, only played in half of Detroit's games the year Golladay led the league in TDs.
Numbers alone, Golladay has been plenty productive for Detroit. But where he truly excels is making plays down the field, something Washington desperately needs.
In 2019, Golladay's last fully healthy season, 53 percent of his total receiving yards (628 of 1,190) came on plays of 20-plus yards, the second most of any pass-catcher that season. Additionally, Golladay's yards per reception (18.6) and yards before reception (13.6) marks were the third-highest in the NFL in 2019.
Simply put, Golladay makes big plays happen down the field. Although McLaurin has shown in the past he can take the top off the defense, Washington hasn't had a receiver with Golladay's deep-threat ability since DeSean Jackson parted after the 2016 season.
Where McLaurin truly excelled in 2020 was operating in space and creating something out of nothing. With defenses taking away the big play against Washington, the second-year pro made a living by catching passes underneath. McLaurin also finished in the top 10 in yards after the catch.
Combining Golladay's big-play ability with McLaurin's skillset would take Washington's aerial attack to another level. While they both have their different strengths, both Golladay and McLaurin can run a full route tree and complement one another extremely well. Teams would have to prepare for each receiver on all three levels, making the two a very difficult pair of pass-catchers to stop.
Last week, Golladay reportedly rejected a contract extension from Detroit, one that would have paid him $16 million per season. Golladay will likely get more on the open market, as Pro Football Focus predicts that he will sign a four-year deal worth $85 million ($21.25 million per year) with $37.5 million fully guaranteed.
Washington swung big for Cooper in 2020, and they struck out. But, if the Burgundy and Gold do land Golladay, it will unquestionably be a home run signing.