Kenny Golladay: if Lions want me here, they’ll keep me here

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At this point, Kenny Golladay has done what he can do. He’s put up back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He’s led the NFL in touchdowns. He’s embraced the culture Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn are so desperately trying to establish in Detroit.

And he’s made his feelings on the matter publicly clear.

“I want to be here,” Golladay said last month, entering the final year of his contract.

The rest is up to the Lions. If they want to make Golladay a central figure of their future, if they want to lock him up long-term like they just did Taylor Decker, they’ll give him the money he deserves.

“I’m gonna let the organization and my agent handle it,” Golladay said Friday, as he aims to make his season debut Sunday against the Cardinals. “If these guys want me here, I’m pretty sure they’ll figure out a way to keep me here.”

So, what does Golladay deserve? $15 million per year is a good place to start. He’s one of only 11 receivers in the league with at least 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Right now, the 15-highest paid receivers average about $16.75 million per year.

So maybe $17 million is a better place to start. Or maybe $18 million, which is what Odell Beckham makes with the Browns and Tyreek Hill makes with the Chiefs. This is the class of receivers to which Golladay now belongs.

The Lions can afford to pay him. They’ve consciously left room in their budget. But Golladay said last month that talks were at a standstill between his agent and the team, and it doesn’t sound like much has changed since.

What has changed, in some ways, is Golladay’s leverage. He’s missed the first two games of the season due to a hamstring injury and the Lions’ offense hasn’t looked nearly as dangerous without him. Never has his value to the team been clearer.

The expectation, even with the NFL’s financial outlook muddled by COVID-19, was that Golladay would have an extension before the start of the season. And it remains Golladay’s expectation that he’ll get one eventually.

He knows what he’s worth, and so do the Lions.

“Everything will pretty much work itself out,” he said Friday. “Talk to my family, talk to my agent and we’ll figure out what’s the best situation for me.”

As for Sunday, Golladay should be back on the field. While his hamstring isn't fully healed, he returned to practice this week and intends to "try everything in my power to be out there with the guys."

"Definitely feeling a lot better," he said. "Wouldn’t say it’s 100 percent, I really wouldn’t even put a percentage on it. I just know I’m not 100 percent. I’m gonna do everything I can. Hopefully I’ll show enough to be out there."