T.J. Lang won’t be signing with the Seahawks. He’s joining the Detroit Lions after agreeing a three-year contract.
Lang spent the weekend visiting with Seattle. It’s possible the Lions stepped up their interest as he prepared to make a decision, potentially offering an amount the Seahawks and Packers were not willing to pay.
There are reasons why this shouldn’t be seen as terrible news:
1. Lang is injured
He’s set to miss all of the off-season as he recovers from hip surgery and a broken foot. He had a similar situation a year ago as he recovered from shoulder surgery — but he already had chemistry with his team mates in Green Bay. His first playing time in Detroit could be pre-season or it could be week one of the regular season. Not ideal.
Lang isn’t as young as the other offensive linemen getting paid this year. He turns 30 in 2017 and has had a few injuries. It might be something that concerned the Packers enough to balk at re-signing him.
2. Green Bay didn’t prioritise him
The Packers made two significant moves in free agency. They paid linebacker Nick Perry and brought in Martellus Bennett. Have a look at this tweet:
Of their own free agents, the #Packers' off-season priorities were Perry and Cook. Neither Lang nor anyone else was close to a priority.
— Bob McGinn (@BobMcGinn) March 9, 2017
Lang clearly stated the Packers would get first refusal on any offer he received on the open market. They just let him join a competitive divisional rival, despite having plenty of cap room available.
Lament Seattle’s ability not to complete this signing if you want but Green Bay didn’t feel too strongly about needing to keep him.
3. The Seahawks can use this money elsewhere
There’s still a number of good players available on the open market and Seattle has money to spend:
UPDATED CAP SPACE: Seahawks have $12M in true cap space (includes accounting for IR, Practice Squad, rooks, Joeckel, etc)
— Evan (@EvanonHB) March 12, 2017
They’re not going to land a big name free agent O-liner — but it’s a bad market this year. Supply is not meeting demand and look at the crazy contracts being handed out. Even Seattle is offering $7m guaranteed to take a punt on Luke Joeckel.
They should be able to land a free agent running back at a team-friendly price. They might be able to pursue a veteran defensive lineman like Connor Barwin. They can look at what’s left on the O-line or D-line.
And perhaps more importantly — they can use the $12m left to reward their own (see: Kam Chancellor).
Seattle clearly wanted to sign Lang. Why else would they bring him in for a pitch and visit? They likely wanted to do this on their terms though. Their price, their value. Not overpaying and getting desperate. The kind of approach that often keeps good teams at the top.
Nobody was talking about Lang two weeks ago. A lot of people wanted to see Russell Okung return. There were discussions about Riley Reiff and Matt Kalil. Lang only really appeared on the radar of Seahawks fans when it was revealed he was coming in for a visit.
That’s worth remembering if you’re feeling overly disappointed by today’s news.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 12, 2017
$9.5m a year and $19m guaranteed is a considerable sum. Reportedly Green Bay offered $7m a year and only $6.5m guaranteed.