By: Mike Sullivan
@mikesullivan

I had a chance to catch up with former Detroit Lions WR and current NFL Network analyst Nate Burleson today. We spoke about a number of different topics. Most notably the Lions loss to Dallas, Ndamukong Suh’s future, and if Nate wanted to be a Lion this past season.

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The Lions decided to release Burleson last offseason. In four years with Detroit, Burleson recorded 194 receptions for 2,083 yards and 12 touchdowns.

He was in attendance for the Lions loss in Dallas last Sunday and he talked about the pass interference controversy. He said, “The Lions had an opportunity to win that game, and they were frustrated by the way it ended. Everybody who represents the city of Detroit and the team should be frustrated.”

He went on to talk about how it won’t be difficult for this organization to move on from this devastating loss, mainly due to the coaching staff. Burleson gave Jim Caldwell a lot of credit for the culture he’s created in Detroit.

I asked him about Ndamukong Suh’s future. He told me that he thinks there’s a good chance Suh will re-sign in Detroit, but also noted that the Lions really need to open up their pockets to keep him.

Since Burleson knows Suh so well, I decided to press him a little more about him and I wanted to gauge how much Ndamukong Suh actually does (or doesn’t) like it here in Detroit.

Nate told me, “Yeah, he loves it. When I spent time with Suh here in Detroit, he talked about the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan with such adoration. He can definitely see himself making it permanent.”

He continued to say, “We both talked about finding ourselves loving the fact that this city, who we’ve never had any ties to, has really worked its way into our lives. He feels the same way I do about the city of Detroit. Great people, great energy, and as blue-collar as football gets, and he’s a guy that embodies that.”

We then talked about how much Nate would’ve loved to have played in Detroit this past season.

Burleson was with the Cleveland Browns during the 2014 preseason before suffering a hamstring injury and was later released. He fully recovered a month later, which was around week six of the NFL season. He was debating whether or not to go into TV broadcasting, or to sign with an NFL team and play the remainder of the season.

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He got a call from the Atlanta Falcons, but he told me there were only two teams he would’ve played for: His hometown Seahawks, or the Detroit Lions. However, Detroit was unquestionably where he wanted to play. “As much as I love my hometown Seattle, the first choice on my list, at the top of the list, was Detroit. Without a doubt. I told my wife that if Detroit calls me today, I’ll sign with them. There’s no question.”

He went on to say, “I would’ve loved to have signed with Detroit and finished my career off as a Detroit Lion, but that’s the way the game goes. It’s a cold business. But I have nothing but love and respect for the Lions and the city.”

However, when I asked him if he had any communication with the Lions about joining the team midway through the year, he said that he did not, and understands that the reason why is because of how tremendous Golden Tate had played.

Burleson also believes that he could still make an impact in the NFL. He said, “At this point, I’m 33. I feel good now. I could make a difference now and I could do things now. But it’s gotta be one hell of a deal for me to walk away from the job I have now.”

There was definitely a lack of depth at the WR position this season. The drop-off between Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, and then the rest of the WRs was very large. I guess we’ll never know whether or not Burleson would’ve made a difference in the offense this season.

I personally believe that we would’ve seen a lot more productivity from him than we did from Corey Fuller and Jeremy Ross.

Burleson does, however, think the Detroit Lions have a bright future. He said, “This year might have been just the foundation, it wasn’t the whole entree plus a dessert. Maybe it was an appetizer. They set the table for what’s going to happen in 2015.”

Nate Burleson had 5,630 receiving yards and 39 touchdowns during his NFL career.

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