T.J. Lang wants to continue his career with the Detroit Lions after an injury-shortened season, but some decisions have to be made, and not all of them are by him.
Lang does not expect to decide soon on whether he will return for an 11th pro season and his third as the Lions’ starting right guard.
However, he told reporters this week that he feels healthy and has recovered from the neck injury that forced him to go on injured reserve in a season when he was limited to six games.
“As far as health goes, I think I’m good,” Lang said. “I’ve been working out, doing everything I can off to the side. I don’t think anybody wants to walk away from the game right after the season. That obviously takes some time to ponder and think about and talk about.
“I’m not going to make a decision one way or the other any time soon. I had a lot of time off. I’ve been trying to keep myself busy around here helping out in different ways with the guys.
“I think everybody wants to have a chance to go out on their own terms, and I’m no different.”
Lang, 31, was signed as a primary free agent two years ago along with right tackle Rick Wagner to improve the offensive line. Lang played 13 games, all starts, in 2017. He missed three games because of injuries.
He has one year left on his contract. Financial considerations could be another factor in whether he returns to the Lions. That is a common consideration for veteran players who are at the end of their contracts.
“I would be open to playing next year,” Lang said when asked about his contract. “I don’t care what anything else looks like. If I get another chance to be on this team, that would be a great opportunity.”
Lang’s strong connection to Metro Detroit was a factor in his decision to sign with the Lions and could be a factor in why he wants to continue to play. He played high school football at Birmingham Brother Rice and in college at Eastern Michigan University.
He was drafted in the fourth round in 2009 by the Green Bay Packers. He became a full-time starter for the Packers in 2011 and was a popular player in Green Bay, as has been the case with the Lions.
He continued to live in Metro Detroit in the offseason while playing for the Packers and spoke passionately about his desire for the Lions to win a championship, and his understanding of the fan’s frustration.
“The big picture is that everybody’s in this together,” he said. “We know our fans are diehards. Just look at the games we play on the road. You see the blue and silver. It’s unbelievable the support we have.
“I’ve got kind of a different perspective than a lot of the guys in this locker room. I was a fan of this team for a long time growing up. I lived here, and I’ll be here the rest of my life.
“I get it (fan frustration). I understand it. At the end of the day, this is a city that deserves a winning football team. We want to give it to them. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen this year.
“It comes down to, don’t give up on us.”