Detroit Lions shouldn't chance it with Amon-Ra St. Brown like Chiefs did with Tyreek Hill (2024)

Dave BirkettDetroit Free Press

LAS VEGAS - The Kansas City Chiefs won a Super Bowl 11 months after trading the most dynamic receiver in the NFL and will play for their second title in as many seasons Sunday when they face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 58.

But while Tyreek Hill's departure did little to affect their fortunes, several analysts and former players said Tuesday at Super Bowl LVIII the Detroit Lions would be foolish to take the same approach with Amon-Ra St. Brown.

"Yeah, Chiefs didn’t pay Tyreek Hill and they’re here, but there were some issues in the passing game this season," former Lions receiver and current CBS analyst Nate Burleson said. "And let’s be really clear, Tyreek Hill would be a help to this Chiefs offense. You got to keep Amon-Ra St. Brown. He does it all. Not only is he dynamic, he blocks his butt off. He just adds a spark. Really unique talent. He’s like, he’s as good as any No. 1 wide receiver, but he brings that energy that you need."

St. Brown led the Lions and tied for second in the NFL with 119 catches this season. He had career-highs of 1,515 yards and 10 touchdowns and helped the Lions reach the NFC championship game for the first time in 32 years.

He earned first-team All-Pro honors, along with Dallas Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb and Hill, who the Chiefs traded to the Miami Dolphins for five draft picks last spring rather than pay him big money on a new contract.

That trade has turned out to be a win-win for both sides. Kansas City used the draft haul it got for Hill to reshape a roster that already had the best quarterback in the game, while Hill led the NFL with 1,799 receiving yards this season and helped the Dolphins reach the playoffs one year after signing a four-year, $120 million extension.

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CBS analyst Charles Davis said the Lions' pending contractual decision with St. Brown is similar to what the Chiefs faced with Hill, but only to a point.

St. Brown, 24, is entering the last year of a rookie deal that's scheduled to pay him about $3 million in 2024 and is eligible for an extension for the first time this offseason.

Hill, 29, is the highest-paid receiver in the league.

"It is similar, but I think where the difference is, is that (St. Brown) is such a heavy influence on how they play as a team and their identity and it’s a little bit different," Davis said. "Was Tyreek the full identity of Kansas City? I’d say no. I’d say he was the super flash to it, but Kansas City trusted their quarterback enough that, 'Hey, we’ll give you some guys, you’ll make it right,' and then they invested on the defensive side. And boy has that paid off."

A fourth-round pick in Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes' first draft of 2021, St. Brown has been the soul of the Lions' offense in many ways.

He is Jared Goff's favorite target in third-down and got-to-have-it situations. He's a key component of the Lions' ferocious run game. He's held in high esteem for his work ethic in the Lions' locker room. And he plays with a sizable chip on his shoulder that is part of the Lions' identity.

"You got to pay him," Burleson said. "That’s another part of it. Sometimes you’re not just paying for the talent, you’re paying for what you mean to the team."

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CBS analyst Boomer Esiason, a 14-year NFL veteran, predicted St. Brown's next contract will be "somewhere around $20 million a year," and that might be light.

Eight receivers currently have contracts that average $23 million or more per season, and two more of the game's top receivers, Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase, are in line for mega deals this offseason.

Lions general manager Brad Holmes has not addressed a potential extension for St. Brown publicly, but Esiason and others said it makes sense for the Lions to do the deal this offseason before the price goes up again.

"Got to pay him," Esiason said. "It’s like Tee Higgins in Cincinnati. Duke Tobin, if you remember last year, the GM of Cincinnati said, 'Go get your own receivers.' This year he’s not quite as emphatic about that because he knows it’s going to be a lot of money to keep Tee and they got to pay Ja’Marr. And you’re talking about Amon-Ra, who is now first-team All-Pro and he’s a very important part of that offense. You got to pay him the going rate."

Contact Dave Birkett Follow him on Twitter@davebirkett.

Detroit Lions shouldn't chance it with Amon-Ra St. Brown like Chiefs did with Tyreek Hill (2024)
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