Wednesday's NFL: Ex-Lions TE Luke Willson retires after re-signing with Seahawks

Associated Press
Tight end Luke Willson spent his first five NFL seasons with the Seattle Seahawks before signing with the Lions in the offseason.

Renton, Wash. — Tight end Luke Willson said Wednesday he’s stepping away from football, one day after re-signing with the Seattle Seahawks.

In a lengthy statement on social media, the former Detroit Lion said after being back in the building and participating in practice with the Seahawks on Tuesday he realized it was time to move on.

Willson said he spent time in the hospital during the offseason due to a pericardial effusion (buildup of extra fluid in the space around the heart). He said the hospitalization changed his “perspective on a lot of things with respect to my life.”

“After reflecting on everything yesterday and being in the building, I have decided that it’s time for me to begin with the next chapter of my life,” Willson wrote.

Willson was a fan favorite and has been a part of the Seahawks in some way for most of his NFL career. Willson was a fifth-round pick by Seattle in 2013 and spent parts of seven seasons with the Seahawks.

He appeared in eight games for Seattle in 2019 and last season played three games for Baltimore before joining the Seahawks and playing in five more games. In one season with the Lions in 2018, he caught 13 passes for 

Willson’s best season for Seattle came in 2014 when he started 10 games, had 22 receptions and three touchdowns. He also caught one of the more famous two-point conversions in playoff history in the 2014 NFC championship game as part of Seattle’s late rally against Green Bay.

Willson is originally from Windsor, Ontario, and played his college ball at Rice.

“I have always tried my best to be a true representation of the characteristics that make up our area. I hope I’ve made you proud,” Willson wrote.

Lawrence to start for Jags

Trevor Lawrence will start Jacksonville’s season opener at Houston on Sept. 12, one of the least surprising decisions in franchise history.

Coach Urban Meyer made the announcement Wednesday, giving Lawrence the nod over third-year pro Gardner Minshew after two preseason games and a month of training camp. Meyer expects Lawrence will never have to earn a starting job in the NFL again.

“You can capitalize that if you want. Underline it. Cap it,” Meyer said.

Lawrence, the top pick in the 2021 NFL draft, and Minshew, a two-year starter in Jacksonville, split repetitions with the first-team offense during camp. Meyer wanted “healthy competition” at every position, including quarterback.

Nonetheless, just about everyone outside Minshew’s camp expected Lawrence to be Jacksonville’s starter in Houston. Lawrence was the No. 1 pick, the top college prospect in nearly a decade, and outperformed Minshew at every turn during camp.

Meyer also said Lawrence will start Jacksonville’s preseason finale at Dallas on Sunday.

“It doesn’t really change anything, though,” Lawrence said. “Still got the same task in front of us, got to get a lot better, individually, as a team, as an offense. Just looking forward to going to work this week. It brings some clarity, which is nice, going forward. But it really doesn’t change much, but, yeah, I’m really excited for the opportunity, grateful for it.”

Lawrence has completed 20 of 32 passes for 184 yards in two exhibitions, both losses. He started each game, was sacked three times, and led the offense to just a field goal in six series.

“It’s frustrating, but also we just got to stick together and keep playing,” Lawrence said. “We’re going to figure it out. I’m really confident in that. We got a bunch of guys that are putting the work in and we’re going to do everything it takes to get on the right track.”

Lawrence went 34-2 at Clemson, recording the third-best winning percentage by a starting quarterback (minimum 30 starts) in college football since 1978. He finished his college career undefeated in regular-season play and led the Tigers to the national championship as a freshman in 2018.

After a slow start to the offseason — Lawrence had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder in February and then was hampered by a strained hamstring in organized team activities — he looked every bit as advertised in camp. Teammates raved about his arm, his mobility, his touch on deep passes and his command of the huddle.

Funchess out for season

Packers wide receiver Devin Funchess has been placed on injured reserve after hurting his hamstring in a joint practice with the Jets last week.

The move ends the season for Funchess, who hasn’t played a regular-season game since September 2019.

Funchess caught a total of 21 touchdown passes over his first four NFL seasons with the Carolina Panthers, who selected him out of Michigan in the second round of the 2015 draft.

Rams trade for Michel

The Rams announced that they acquired running back Sony Michel from the Patriots for undisclosed 2022 draft picks.

Michel, who was drafted in the first round in 2018, brings some relief to a Rams offense that was running low on healthy running back options with the regular season fast approaching.

Darrell Henderson left practice Monday because of a sprained thumb. The Rams won’t have two of last season’s top three running backs this fall after Cam Akers’ season-ending Achilles tendon injury and Malcolm Brown’s departure for Miami. They also won’t have emerging talent Raymond Calais, who was waived with an injury designation Monday after breaking his foot in their preseason game against Las Vegas.

Personnel dept.

Jets defensive end Vinny Curry announced he has a rare blood disorder that required his spleen to be removed. Curry, 33, wrote in a post on Twitter that Jets team doctors discovered the disorder last month, but he didn’t specify the condition ailing him. Curry said he was projected to return to the field in mid-September, but he developed blood clots that prevent him from having physical contact for the next three to six months.

... Broncos coach Vic Fangio informed the team that Teddy Bridgewater has edged incumbent Drew Lock to win the starting quarterback job.

... The Bills signed wide receiver Steven Sims to address an injury- and coronavirus-depleted position. Sims spent his first two NFL seasons in Washington.

... Veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph is finally getting on the field with the Giants, at least on a limited basis. The Giants announced Rudolph has passed his physical and was taken off the physically unable to perform/active list. He had offseason foot surgery and had been unable to practice since training camp started just under a month ago.

... Offensive lineman Connor Williams and safety Damontae Kazee have joined the list of Dallas players under COVID-19 protocols, bringing the total to six along with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Williams and Kazee tested positive for COVID-19, coach Mike McCarthy said. Williams practiced Tuesday, while Kazee was absent because he was being tested.