Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

30 Oct 2012

Jaguars Trade Mike Thomas to Lions

The Jags have dealt receiver Mike Thomas to the Lions for what ESPN's Adam Schefter says is a "mid-round" pick. That's an awful lot to pay for the worst qualifying receiver in the league by DVOA as of Week 8, and someone who finished 2011 second only to Devin Aromashadu for the worst DYAR in the league.

Obviously Thomas has been handicapped by the Blaine Gabbert Jags offense, and he had an 11.1% DVOA in 2010 with David Garrard. But it still seems like a stretch to bet a mid-round pick on a receiver who hasn't done anything valuable since, even if the Lions do have a hole at the position with Nate Burleson out for the season.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 30 Oct 2012

27 comments, Last at 02 Nov 2012, 12:39pm by coded


by Theo :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 5:18pm

Maybe that's also saying something about the rest of the league.
That's the best you can get for a 'mid-round' pick at this moment.
If the Lions really want an upgrade at receiver they'll have to wait for the draft. And pick high. Like first round. Again.

Does this guy play special teams? And is he better than TO and Chad Johnson?

by LionInAZ :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 5:54pm

They don't need an 'upgrade' (and I can't believe you'd call Owens or Johnson upgrades over anyone at this point). They only need a fourth WR who might be a competent replacement should another receiver go down. A mid-round pick is a steep price, but if Thomas regains his pre-Gabbert touch he might be worth it.

by lionsbob :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 5:20pm

I think move was made for a couple of reasons:
One Burleson is probably going to get released after this season.
Two: Stefan Logan is a pile of suck.
Three: Lions love tiny WRs.

by LionInAZ :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 5:56pm

The Lions don't use Logan at WR.

by lionsbob :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 6:00pm

Yes but they use him as a returner, something that Mike Thomas can do.

by LionInAZ :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 7:36pm

But Thomas has not been a better returner than Logan. Besides, it's the kick coverage that has really sucked for the Lions this year, not the return game.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 10:56am

"But Thomas has not been a better returner than Logan."

I would classify someone who doesn't fumble as a better returner than someone who does.

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

by LionInAZ :: Thu, 11/01/2012 - 6:06pm

OK, you made me look up the numbers.

Thomas has fumbled/muffed 5 punts in 75 attempts, with 4 lost. He has 28 KO returns no fumbles, but he hasn't attempted a KR since 2009.

Logan has 11 fumbles/muffs on 117 PRs, with 3 lost. 2 he recovered himself for average gain (15 yds total), while one went OOB. He has 4 fumbles on 153 KO returns, losing three.

Thomas has an 8.3 yd avg on PRs, 24.2 yd avg on KRs.
Logan has a 9.6 yd avg on PRs, 25.9 yd avg on KRs.
To me, it looks a statistical wash on fumble rates, while Logan has a better overall return avg.

As an aside, Devin Hester has coughed up the ball 28 times, but you rarely hear about that, partly because all those TD returns get so much attention.

by Independent George :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 5:24pm

Rumor has it that MJD was banging on the door during negotiations, shouting "Me me me! Pick me! Please?"

by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 5:42pm

Thomas was a pretty good possession receiver back when the Jaguars were an NFL football team, but he isn't a great physical talent so he needs a functioning offense to be successful. He could be useful as a possession receiver running outs and slants underneath Johnson and Young.

by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:25pm

Wait, the JAGUARS dealt a WIDE RECIEVER????

What's next? The Cardinals are dealing an OL? The Pats are dealing a CB? The Jets and Chiefs are dealing a QB?

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:35pm

Well Jaguars have 2 up and cominger WRs C. Shorts and J. Blackmon. So could afford to get rid of crappy M. Thomas

by BigCheese :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 1:28am

I know they can afford to get rid of him. But why would anyone want Jacksonvilles' WR dregs?

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by LionInAZ :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 5:57pm

Because maybe the problem in J-ville is the QB, not the receivers.

by Roch Bear :: Thu, 11/01/2012 - 5:21pm

BINGO. We all know it, but we sometimes 'forget' DVOA for WRs and QBs is a number that probably reports more on the rest of the offense than on them. Do other WRs draw safeties? is the QB good and WR DVOA friendly (can be different)? Does the OL pass block well? etc.

I know its weak praise but the Jaguars front office paid Thomas as if he were a valuable starter with a 3 year extension, 9 mil guaranteed, 18 million total (so said one web site, anyway). The keys here would be how much was in bonus and first year payments that are already laid out by Jac. and *which* mid round pick (Lion's pick in the fifth round may not be worth all that much). I'm a Bears fan and would love to see this be stupid, but I cannot see that ... yet.

by moore2012 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 1:42am

The Jets should trade a quarterback. Trading 2 would be an even better idea.

by Ryan D. :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 8:02am

Maybe the Panthers can trade a coach.

by Treima :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 12:47am

As an Arizona alumnus (and a fervent non-believer in the "talents" of Blaine Gabbert), I hope Thomas finds a niche and shines in Detroit with a more capable hand at QB.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 10:55am

While I agree a mid-round pick is kind of a lot to give up for what will essentially be a 4th receiver, Thomas has a history of being competent when he has a non-Gabbert QB throwing to him. I would also like to see him potentially used as a kick-returner (Stephan Logan not only fumbles a lot, he has also been below average as a returner the last two seasons).

by DEW (not verified) :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 1:26pm

Yeah, ultimately that's what it comes down to. In 2010 Thomas wasn't hopeless, and he can usually field a punt without dropping the ball every other game. As a 3rd-4th receiver, or as a slot guy coming underneath while Young and Megatron clear out the DBs, he can probably help, and if he tanks, well, we are talking about a *Lions* draft choice here (admittedly, post-Millen, but)...

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 1:42pm

The pick turns out to be a 2014 5th rounder, which seems reasonable, if he ends up getting snaps in 4 receiver sets and contributing on special teams.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 2:39pm

I've read that he might do some Randall Cobb/Percy Harvin line up in the backfield type stuff, to replace what the Lions were hoping to get out of Jahvid Best in that role. If he has any effect there along with some snaps in the 4 WR (or taking a few snaps in 3WR sets) that pick is very reasonable.

by LionInAZ :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 6:00pm

That I could see happening.

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 10:01pm

I don't think he'd be replacing Best, who's an actual RB: he'd be replacing Logan, who the Lions occasionally use in the backfield. Joique Bell is really the guy who's been filling Best's shoes.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Thu, 11/01/2012 - 6:05am

Joique Bell may have taken Best's spot on the roster, but their roles/skill set are totally different. Bell is a power back who can catch the ball, but doesn't have near the speedthat Best had. I could see them hoping to capture at least a poor-man's version with Thomas (They failed to do that with Logan).

by LionInAZ :: Thu, 11/01/2012 - 6:18pm

I agree with Joey here. The Lions have never tried to use Logan the same way as Best. They've only thrown at Logan 3 times while rushing him about 90 times. I think they just tried to take advantage of Logan's small size to hide him behind blockers or to run end arounds. Unfortunately, it's hard to hide behind an OL with so many holes in it.

Bell and Kevin Smith have both been good receiving backs, but neither has the kind of breakout speed that Best had. It would be interesting to see if they try to use Thomas in a role like Harvin or Dexter McCluster.

by coded :: Fri, 11/02/2012 - 12:39pm

Mike Thomas sure loves his Louie the 13th! As both a Lion's fan and a Mike Thomas fan, I'm probably a little blinded into thinking this could be great. Here's to hoping!