When Haloti Ngata went down with a season-ending bicep injury back in Week 5 against the Panthers, many speculated that it may be the end of his storied career. Seeing as he was on the last year of his contract with the Detroit Lions, it was a good time for Ngata to call it a career.
But the defensive tackle joined 97.1 The Ticket radio show “Jamie and Stoney” on Friday and said the injury has actually been motivation for him to come back for another year.
“If I finished the year healthy, I would have been a little closer to retiring,” Ngata said. “But I want to finish a season, so I want to keep on playing.”
And despite the Lions being in the middle of a coaching change, Ngata wants to come back to Detroit for 2018.
“I loved being able to be here and help Detroit have more dominance in this league,” Ngata said. “We’ve had winning seasons and I just want to continue to build this franchise and get it to where it could be a dominant franchise and a great team.
“I definitely want to be here, I definitely want to keep on playing. But we’ll have to see once free agency hits.”
Ngata’s words ring true considering how close to the franchise the Pro Bowler has remained despite his injury. While some players may have been focused solely on their recovery after suffering such a significant injury, Ngata traveled with the team during every road game in the second half of the season, helping mentor Detroit’s young defensive line.
And the Lions should certainly have interest in bringing Ngata back. Just look at the collapse of the Lions’ run defense that seemed to happen just around the time of Ngata’s injury against the Panthers.
While Ngata’s future in Detroit is highly dependent on the Lions’ next coach, it’s good news that the future Hall of Fame defensive lineman is interested in returning.