T.J. Lang is going home.
And home is not Seattle.
The Michigan native and prized, Pro Bowl free-agent guard decided Sunday, after two days of wooing by the Seahawks, that he is signing with the Detroit Lions.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Lang chose the Lions over the Seahawks and Lang’s former Green Bay Packers by agreeing with Detroit for $28.5 million -- an average value of $9.5 million per year -- with $19.5 million guaranteed.
The Seahawks were believed to have a comparable offer, as they went way farther than they had with any other free-agent lineman in the Pete Carroll-John Schneider era.
So ends the regime’s highest-profile chase of a free-agent blocker in Seattle. The coach and general manager’s quest for getting more experienced on their iffy offensive line stops for now with Saturday’s official signing of 25-year-old free-agent left tackle Luke Joeckel from Jacksonville. The already-thin market on free-agent offensive linemen is almost bare now that the first wave of signings that began Thursday has passed.
"Right now it’s just, I think the biggest thing is it’s not just me making a decision on where I want to go play, what team I want to play for, what city I want to live in. It’s more for my family,” Lang told the Detroit Free Press, before he nmade his decision to come home to near where he was born in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak, Michigan. “My son is going to be in first grade this year, my daughter’s growing up. It’s trying to narrow down every single scenario and we did a lot of homework."
Lang told Detroit’s WXYZ television before his decision to sign with the Lions: “This is my first time going through this free-agency frenzy in my eight-year career. Honestly, it was exciting a little bit of the time, but it was stressful.”
The very public process of Lang coming to Seattle for a free-agent visit -- right down to leaks to the Huffington Post presumably from the player’s camp of delayed flight times into town Friday and a “great” meeting and pitch on Saturday -- now has the feel of the Seahawks being used as leverage with Detroit in driving up interest in him and thus his cost. Lang was believed to also be considering a return to the Packers, for whom he has started full time at guard the last four seasons.
“I’m ready to get it done with,” Lang told WXYZ early Sunday. “I wanted to get something done by this weekend. ... I had a couple great visits. Obviously, went back to Green Bay--they were still in the mix. Took a visit to Detroit. Had a great visit out there with all the coaches and everybody. Just loved the attitude around the facility. And just got back early this morning from a trip out to Seattle. And I didn’t want to make any rash decisions. It’s been about four days since I got a good night’s sleep. Just needed to get home last night, sleep it off, try to think about everything, weigh all my options and try to make a decision (Sunday).
“It’s been a wild ride. It’s been stressful. We narrowed it down to those three teams because, I’ll tell ya’, we felt those three teams were just ready to win now, a great attitude around the programs...”
The Seahawks likely saw themselves with an inside track to Lang because Schneider was Green Bay’s director of football operations in 2009 when the Packers drafted Lang in the fourth round.
For now, the Seahawks are just a Joeckel ahead of where they were on the offensive line at the end of last season, with a draft low on top blockers coming up next month.
Joeckel’s one-year deal is for a reported $7 million guaranteed -- $4.25 million of that in a signing bonus and $2.75 million in guaranteed base salary. He will earn another $62,500 per game week he’s on the roster, a possible $1 million more for $8 million total.
The $7 million guaranteed shows the Seahawks consider him a starting tackle. That’s with him coming off surgery in October to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament, a torn medial collateral ligament and torn meniscus in his left knee.