Offensive tackle Taylor Decker has achieved a level of performance and maturity in five seasons with the Detroit Lions that allows him to speak his mind about issues involving the team.
On the first day of the 2021 offseason as players cleaned out their lockers Monday, Decker said he planned to talk to team president Rod Wood.
It is not meant to be done in a challenging or demanding way, but in a productive exchange intended by Decker to help the Lions improve after a 5-11 won-loss record in 2020.
"I want to be here my whole career, and I want to be a winner," Decker said in a zoom interview. "I want this team and this city to win. I'm not going to overstep. I'm going to go and have a conversation. I'll see if Rod is available.
"I want to talk to him. Just give my opinion because I am invested in this team. There are people that if it's up to me I would keep.
"That's not my decision. In the last five years I feel like I've put a lot into this organization. I've given what I can.
"If i can just go put a word in for a player or a coach, I'll do it. If they're wiling to hear me out, that's something I plan to do.
"It all comes down to, I want to win. This city has become my home. It's been a frustrating year, but we do have pieces that can help us win in the future."
Decker did not single out any individuals he wound bring up.
However, in what became a wide-ranging session, Decker spoke strongly about his relationship with quarterback Matthew Stafford, the offense line's improvement and and his own performance, and former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer potentially become a head coach in the NFL. Decker played four seasons under Meyer at Ohio State.
Decker's comments about Stafford echoed what teammates and coaches have said about his toughness and desire to compete and lead the team.
There is speculation that Stafford and the Lions might part ways in 2021.
"I don't know what's going to happen," Decker said. "I love Stafford. He's, for me personally, the most respected teammate I have ever played with. I can't have more respect for the guy.
"You see it year in and year out. How tough that guy is. How professional that guy is. I love playing with him. I don't necessarily know what's going to happen. I'd love to keep playing and keep protecting his blind side.
"That dude is a phenomenal talent. He's a phenomenal football player. He's a phenomenal teammate and friend. Whatever happens, happens. But I think everyone knows, I love Stafford, and I keep telling everybody that."
The Lions have built a solid offensive line through the draft and free-agent signings. Decker was one of the original members of the unit as a first-round draft pick out of Ohio State in 2016.
Center Frank Ragnow, a first-round pick out of Arkansas in 2018, made the Pro Bowl in 2020.
"I think our position had a really good year," Decker said. "I would say in the last five years, this is the best we played consistently.
"I think I had a really good year. I think I was one of the best tackles in football. I wasn't going to say that during the season. The season is over now."
Decker spoke highly of Meyer as a potential NFL coach. He did not endorse him as a candidate for any job including with the Lions.
"He's one of the best in the business," Decker said. "I don't know what that transition would be like. Some coaches transition from college to the NFL and do really well,. Others, not necessarily.
"He developed me into a player to be able to play in the NFL. He does a great job of developing talent, and he does a great job of developing culture -- culture that permeates through the entire building, through the entire team, that everyone takes ownership of."