The Detroit Lions are giving return specialist Jamal Agnew a new avenue to make the squad in 2020.
The Lions plan to transition the fourth-year pro exclusively to receiver when the team returns to workouts, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reported.
News of Agnew joining virtual WR meetings this offseason was first noted by Peter King in his Football Morning In America column earlier this week. Birkett clarified that Agnew has been attending meetings for both receivers and cornerbacks this offseason, but the plan is for him to join the offense when football activities resume.
Listed as a corner for his first three seasons, Agnew played just 21 defensive snaps in 2019, per Next Gen Stats, all of them coming in Week 1. He played 178 snaps on D the previous two seasons. Last year, Agnew played 15 snaps on offense, catching one pass and earning one carry. For his career, the return man has three receptions for 16 yards and four carries for 35 yards on 29 total snaps.
Most of Agnew's work has come on special teams where he's been a dynamic returner, scoring four touchdowns, including three on punts, and earning first-team All-Pro honors in 2017. A shifty speedster, Agnew can do damage in space. Detroit, however, used a fifth-round pick on running back Jason Huntley to provide competition at the return spot.
The Lions moving Agnew to receiver is a play to give the jitterbug a chance to win a roster spot. After three years, he wasn't going to break into the CB rotation. If he can find a niche at receiver, perhaps Detroit will make sure there is room on the roster.
The battle for a gig on offense will be uphill, however. Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola are the clear top three. Detroit used a fifth-round pick on Quintez Cephus. That leaves Agnew battling for one of the last spots with the likes of speedster Marvin Hall, Geremy Davis, newly signed Geronimo Allison, Victor Bolden, Chris Lacy and Travis Fulgham.
In an offseason of uncertainty, Agnew's biggest asset is his versatility in the quest to earn a role in Detroit. With questions about how teams might be forced to handle their rosters if a player contracts coronavirus during the season, someone like Agnew, who has played on offense, defense, and special teams, could come in handy.