Not a real lion. That would be weird, and against football rules. Lions can’t play football.
No, instead of undergoing a metamorphosis and shedding his human body, Mike Thomas has kicked off what’s sure to be another NFL trade deadline filled with similar nothingness. He’s been traded from the Jaguars to the Lions for an undisclosed draft pick.
A future trade or signing with the Bengals will now fulfill Thomas’ destiny, and complete the jungle cat trifecta.
Thomas’ days as a blossoming, promising young wide receiver in Jacksonville ended when management decided that purchasing other better receivers was a preferable option over continuing to groom and develop their own talent. So a first-round pick was spent on Justin Blackmon, and Laurent Robinson was brought in during free agency. Toss in the emergence of Cecil Shorts — who leads the Jags with 400 receiving yards — and there wasn’t enough footballs to justify Thomas’ existence in Jacksonville. That, and any pick the Jaguars can obtain for anyone who’s useless is welcomed warmly. Rebuilding requires blocks. Lots of blocks.
For the Lions, this is a trade in which they suck back one team’s barely-used player at a position to fill the same function on their depth chart. At the age of 25, Thomas still has youth, and he still has potential. But his purpose on the Lions’ roster is to supply depth after the lose of Nate Burleson for the season. Titus Young is doing a fine job filling that void with his 181 receiving yards and two touchdowns since Burleson went down, and rookie Ryan Broyles has stepped up nicely too, with two touchdowns and 88 yards since Week 7.
There’s also that fellow named Calvin Johnson who’s rather talented. So while stocking up on youthful upside is never a bad idea — especially at a minimal price — it’s unlikely that Thomas has much of an impact in Detroit this year. That also makes the impact of this trade from a fantasy perspective pretty much non-existent, unless Thomas is able to challenge Broyles for targets in the No. 3 WR spot.
But in Broyles and Young the Lions have spent a second-round pick on a wide receiver in back-to-back years, and they’re both producing. It’s difficult to imagine that a fresh face would be given more opportunities after that draft investment at the position, especially since Thomas couldn’t hold off Shorts for playing time, and he had fewer receiving yards than both of the Jags’ running backs.