By: Will Burchfield
T.J. Lang left Seattle on Saturday night all but convinced he would return.
“At the time, Seattle had the best offer and I didn’t know Detroit was coming back with a counter offer. So when I left Seattle, I was 99 percent sure I was flying back there to sign a contract. Then Detroit stepped up and things changed pretty quick,” Lang told the Valenti and Foster Show on 97.1 The Ticket.
Lang, the coveted right guard, whittled down his final choices in free agency to the Lions, Seahawks and Packers. He ultimately chose his hometown Lions, swayed by a three-year, $28.5 million deal with $19 million fully guaranteed.
After hearing the Seahawks’ final offer, Lang offered both the Packers and the Lions the chance to respond.
“Detroit obviously came up significantly from where they were, and Green Bay just kind of stayed pat. Saturday night, when I was sitting in the airport and heard that news, I think it really hit me. I always felt through this process there was a good chance I’d be playing for a different team, but it didn’t really hit home until Saturday night when the (Packers) said, ‘There’s nothing we can do.’ That was basically, well, ‘I guess I’m really moving on.'”
According to ESPN, the Packers’ best offer was $21.5 million over three years, with $6.5 million guaranteed.
“It was tough,” Lang said of making his final decision. “It was tough getting on a plane and going out to Seattle and coming back here and not sleeping much and having to make a tough decision between Green Bay and moving out to Seattle or coming home to Detroit. Those are decisions that really aren’t easy. We’re beginning a new chapter of our lives together as a family.”
There was one aspect of the recruiting process that Lang enjoyed.
“Definitely going around and being treated and being wined and dined was a good feeling, but I wouldn’t want to do it again. Hopefully it’s the last time I have to make those trips,” he said.
Lang called the past few days “bittersweet.” On one hand, he’s leaving the only NFL organization he’s ever known. On the other, he’s joining the team he grew up cheering for.
“I made a lot of tough phone calls to a lot of great people that I met in Green Bay. Some of my best friends are over there on that team,” Lang said. “But a lot of great phone calls, as well, talking to some new teammates here. And then going into the facility yesterday and talking with Mr. (Bob) Quinn and Coach Caldwell and a bunch of other people, everybody’s really pumped up about it.
The reality of leaving Green Bay for Detroit, Lang said, is “just starting to hit me.”
“But like I said, we made the decision and there’s no looking back. We’re excited about this new chapter. It’s a little different now that people are sending me photoshopped images of wearing a Lions jersey,” he laughed, “so it hasn’t settled in yet — but I’m sure it will soon.”