Willson (knee) came out on the field for Monday's practice, but he wasn't wearing any pads, Justin Rogers of The Detroit News reports.
Although he didn't participate, Willson's presence on the sideline suggests his knee injury isn't too serious. He's expected to handle the starting job at what might be Detroit's weakest position.
With the signing bonus and one-third of the base salary guaranteed, this contract structure ensures Willson of a spot on the 53-man roster. He also has a nice opportunity to win the No. 1 job at tight end, after the Lions surprisingly opted against bringing in any competition during the 2018 NFL Draft. The team lost Eric Ebron and Darren Fells during the offseason, and blocking specialist Levine Toilolo was signed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract with only $400,000 guaranteed, per OverTheCap. Willson and 2017 fourth-round pick Michael Roberts figure to compete for a role as Detroit's top pass-catching tight end.
Willson agreed Wednesday with the Lions on a one-year contract, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.
The Lions needed some veteran help at tight end after releasing Eric Ebron and losing Darren Fells in free agency last week. The position should remain a priority during the upcoming draft, but it does seem Willson found a destination where he'll at least have a shot at the No. 1 tight-end gig. His current competition consists of 2017 fourth-round pick Michael Roberts and undrafted players Hakeem Valles and Brandon Barnes. A 2013 fifth-round selection, Willson only had 89 catches in 72 regular-season games during his tenure with the Seahawks, but he did manage 12.7 yards per catch and 8.3 per target, with 11 of his receptions (12.4 percent) going for touchdowns.
Willson visited the Jaguars on Friday and is scheduled to meet with the Lions on Saturday, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times reports.
It comes as no surprise that the first visit didn't lead to a contract, as the Jaguars no longer have a need at tight end after signing both Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Niles Paul. The Lions, on the other hand, badly need a veteran presence at the position, having already parted ways with Eric Ebron and Darren Fells, their top two tight ends from last season. Willson profiles best as a No. 2 option, after catching between 15 and 22 passes each of his five seasons in Seattle. He at least was efficient with his limited work, hauling in 89 of 136 targets (65.4 percent) for 1,129 yards (8.3 YPT) and 11 touchdowns in 72 games. A desperate team might look at those numbers and take a gamble on Wilson as its No. 1 tight end.
Willson had just 15 catches for 153 yards and four touchdowns in 16 games in 2017.
Willson had one of the worst statistical seasons of his career in 2017, tying his career-low of 15 catches and putting up the second fewest yards of his career. He's struggled to get many targets ever since the Seahawks acquired Jimmy Graham in 2015. Willson could see his usage increase in 2018 if Graham leaves Seattle in free agency.
|4||9/30/18||@ DAL||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 6|
|7||10/21/18||@ MIA||1:00 pm|
|9||11/4/18||@ MIN||1:00 pm|
|10||11/11/18||@ CHI||1:00 pm|
|14||12/9/18||@ ARI||4:25 pm|
|15||12/16/18||@ BUF||1:00 pm|
|17||12/30/18||@ GB||1:00 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|