Report: Lions adding longtime player to staff, hiring Heiden to coach tight ends

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Sticking with the theme that's defined Dan Campbell's coaching staff in Detroit, the Lions are reportedly adding another longtime NFL player, Steve Heiden, to the mix.

Heiden, a third-round pick in the 1999 NFL draft, played tight end for 11 seasons for the Chargers and Cleveland Browns. Throughout his career, he tallied 201 receptions for 1,689 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Shortly after his retirement in 2010, Heiden transitioned into coaching, starting as a special-teams assistant and assistant tight end coach with the Arizona Cardinals in 2013. He was hired by Bruce Arians, who had served as Heiden's offensive coordinator in Cleveland for two seasons.

Steve Heiden

After a brief stint helping out with the team's offensive line in 2018, Heiden was promoted to tight ends coach in 2019 by recently fired Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury. The team has yet to hire a replacement, but after a decade with the franchise, Heiden opted to take another opportunity in Detroit.

It's unclear how this move impacts the rest of Detroit's coaching staff. Tanner Engstrand coached tight ends and served as the team's passing-game coordinator in 2022, backfilling both roles following Ben Johnson's promotion to offensive coordinator.

Detroit made the decision to part ways with Pro Bowler T.J. Hockenson in the middle of last season, trading him to the Minnesota Vikings. Leaning on a young and inexperienced trio of Brock Wright, Shane Zylstra and rookie James Mitchell, the position group's 12 touchdowns, which include three from Hockenson, set the franchise record.

ESPN was the first to report Heiden joining Detroit. The Lions are expected to release a fully updated coaching staff roster later this offseason.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers