Head coach Matt Patricia speaks on the 2018 season as Detroit Lions players clean out their lockers at the end of a 6-10 campaign. The Detroit News
Allen Park — Echoing his coach's comments about not wanting to make an emotional decision immediately after the season concludes, T.J. Lang isn't sure if he's going to continue playing. But if he does, the offensive lineman strongly suggested he'd prefer to continue his career with the Detroit Lions.
"I think when I signed here, the biggest thing I wanted to be part of something big for this city," Lang said. "I want to be part of a football team that the fans deserved. That was really the driving force. You can attribute that to me growing up here, living here, being a fan of this team."
But even if Lang ultimately decides he wants to continue his career, he faces multiple hurdles if he's going to stick in Detroit. The primary concern is his durability. A Pro Bowler in 2017, he's battled a number of injuries during his two seasons with the club, from his hip to his back to his foot to concussions.
Lang, 31, appeared in just six games this season, finishing the year on injured reserve with a neck injury. He said the issue won't require offseason surgery and he's already resumed regular workouts in recent weeks.
While he's been sidelined, Lang has done his best to contribute, scouting future opponents for his linemates and donning a headset on game day to hear the play calls and provide an extra set of eyes and ears for teammates during the game.
In addition to his health, there are financial considerations. Entering the final season of a three-year contract, Lang is scheduled to carry an $11.7 million cap hit next season, while his release would clear $9 million off the books.
Lang was asked if he would consider a pay cut to stay with the Lions, an awkward question for any player because it's essentially asking them to publicly negotiate against themselves.
"I would be open to playing next year," Lang said. "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 to myself. You can interpret that however you want."
So is it Detroit or bust for Lang next season?
"I haven’t really thought about that, to be honest with you," he said. "This is where I live, this is probably where I’m going to live the rest of my life. My kids are in school here, my family is around, my wife’s family is around, this is definitely home base for us.
"I don’t know. We’ll have to see what kind of opportunities that rise when that time comes."