Allen Park — He had a good run in Green Bay and offensive lineman Don Barclay is thankful for the way things ended with the organization.
Barclay spent his entire career with the Packers, signing with the team after going undrafted in 2012. He spent five years with the organization, appearing in 62 games and making 24 starts.
He re-signed with the Packers this past offseason, a one-year, $1.3 million deal, but when a preseason ankle injury lingered into the regular season and the team needed the roster spot, he was moved to injured reserve.
Barclay was cleared to return after Week 6, but teams are only permitted to bring two players back. Offensive tackle Jason Spriggs, a second-round pick in 2016, was the Packers’ first priority. The other spot is being held open just in case quarterback Aaron Rodgers can heal from his broken collarbone in time to make a difference in the playoff race. That left a healthy Barclay on the outside looking in.
Instead of forcing him to waste away in meeting rooms on an expiring contract, the team granted Barclay his release, allowing him to find another opportunity.
A week later, he landed with the Lions.
“I appreciate them doing right by me, giving me a chance to sign somewhere else,” Barclay said. “At this point in your career, you can’t afford to just be healthy and sit in meetings all day and have no reps for a whole year.”
Barclay joins a roster with four former teammates — guard T.J. Lang, wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, defensive tackle Khyri Thornton and practice squad defensive lineman Christian Ringo. Lang served as a mentor early in Barclay’s career and the two developed a strong friendship over the five years they played together.
“He’s a great guy, we’re pretty close,” Barclay said. “When I first got in the league, he really helped me out and showed me the way over there.”
Naturally, Lang can help bring Barclay along in his new setting as well, but he said the entire offensive line group has been welcoming, offering advice and tips as he learns the playbook and technique demands in this scheme.
Barclay, 28, brings intriguing versatility if he can stick in Detroit. He’s played all five positions along the offensive line, making starts at all but center. During his first week of practice with the Lions, he’s been working at guard.
And while he’s unlikely to be active for Monday night’s game, his first week on the Lions sideline will be his old stomping grounds, Lambeau Field.
“It will mean a lot,” Barclay said. “I want to win this game with these guys here. It was a great run in Green Bay and made a lot of friends there. But now I’m here. I’m trying to get a new beginning and start a new story somewhere else.”