T.J. Lang signs with Lions, says they're 'ready to win'
Allen Park — Bob Quinn’s transformation of the Detroit Lions’ offensive line is complete. The general manger lured in his second big catch of the offseason, signing Pro Bowl guard T.J. Lang on Sunday.
The three-year deal is reportedly worth $28.5 million, with $19 million guaranteed. Detroit beat out Green Bay and Seattle for Lang’s services.
After spending his first eight seasons with the Packers, it’s been reported their offer to Lang came in significantly lower than the Lions’ final figures. He laughed when asked about the competitiveness of the Packers’ offer and directed comment to agent Mike McCartney.
After having positive visits with all three franchises last week, Lang returned home from Seattle late Saturday evening to ponder his options. In an interview with WXYZ’s Sports Cave Sunday morning, he said after a stressful four days with little sleep, he wanted to talk it over with his family and get some rest before making his decision.
He explained why he choose Detroit during a conference call with local media on Sunday afternoon.
“It was the best move for my family and I, combined with my thought of just how ready Detroit was to win, to put them in contention to win championships” Lang said. “Those two things ultimately trumped everything else and it really became clear to me this morning, and I wanted to get it done as soon as I could.”
A southeast Michigan native and Brother Rice (Bloomfield Township) and Eastern Michigan alum, the 29-year-old Lang fills the void created by Larry Warford’s departure in free agency. He signed a multi-year contract with the New Orleans Saints earlier in the week.
Lang, who has fond memories of watching Barry Sanders and Herman Moore growing up, and admits to owning Scott Mitchell and Charlie Batch jerseys during his childhood, is looking forward to representing his hometown team.
"That’s something that really got me excited," Lang said. "I’ve been away for so many years. This is where I grew up. I understand how fans around here are so hungry to have a championship football team — I was one of them when I was a kid. Not to be cliché, but every kid dreams about playing for their hometown team and I was no different. When this opportunity came about I got really excited about it."
Adding Lang completes general manager Bob Quinn’s overhaul of the team’s offensive line in little more than a year. He drafted starters Taylor Decker and Graham Glasgow last offseason and signed free agent Rick Wagner to a five-year, $47.5 million contract on Thursday, replacing long-time starter Riley Reiff.
The new additions should provide a big boost to the team’s pass protection. Both Lang and Wagner ranked among the best at their positions, according to analytics website Pro Football Focus. Additionally, Quinn signed Darren Fells, one of the league’s premier pass-blocking tight ends.
One thing that didn’t seem to bother the Lions is that Lang is still rehabbing from offseason hip surgery. Packers coach Mike McCarthy, speaking at the NFL combine earlier this month, said he didn’t anticipate the guard being ready to return to the field until training camp.
Lang confirmed that timetable on Sunday.
“I’ll definitely be ready for training camp, no doubt about it,” Lang said. “For me, it’s nothing but a positive. This is something I’ve been dealing with for a number of years. It’s always caused me a pretty good amount of pain at some points during the season.
“It’s really been three or four seasons since I came into training camp 100 percent healthy and I really feel that’s where I’m going to be this year. “
Lang, an eight-year veteran drafted in the fourth round in 2009, was testing free agency for the first time. He admitted that the process has been both exciting and stressful.
“I’m glad I’ve only had to do this one time in my career," Lang said. "Hopefully it’s the last time it ever happens.”
About T.J. Lang
Height / weight: 6-4 / 320
Born: Royal Oak
High school: Birmingham Brother Rice
College: Eastern Michigan
Drafted: Fourth round, No. 109 overall, in 2009
Notable: Started 94 of 119 games over eight seasons with the Packers. Earned Pro bowl nod in 2016 and was second-team All-NFL by Pro Football Focus in 2014. Was a member of the Packers’ Super Bowl champion team in 2010.