In his first face-to-face with the media since being placed on injured reserve following a frustratingly injury-filled season, T.J. Lang certainly didn’t seem like a player on the verge of retirement.
“I don’t think anybody wants to walk away from the game right after the season,” Lang said.
The Lions veteran right guard will be entering the final year of his three-year deal with the Lions. But his second year in Detroit came with a lot of obstacles. He missed Week 2 with a back injury, he suffered a scary-looking concussion in Dallas—at least the fifth concussion of his career—and just a few weeks later, a neck injury ended his 10th year in the NFL.
While Lang obviously looked like he wanted to be out there on the field with his teammates, he admitted on Monday that he’ll need some time to think about his football future.
“I think that’s something that obviously takes some time to ponder and think about and talk about,” Lang said. “I think everybody wants to have a chance to go out on their own terms, and I’m no different. I’m not going to make a decision one way or the other anytime soon.”
Unfortunately for Lang, the decision may not be entirely up to him. In 2019, he’s scheduled to cost the Lions $11.7 million in cap space, a figured that Detroit may not be willing to undertake considering Lang’s lengthy injury history in his two years with the team. When Lang has played, however, he’s been performing at a Pro Bowl level.
When asked if he would take a paycut to stick around, especially considering he’s made Michigan his home for life, Lang sounded open to the idea.
“I would be open to playing next year. I don’t care what anything else looks like. If I get another chance to be on this team, then that would be a great opportunity for myself.”
But when asked to clarify if that meant he was willing to take a paycut, Lang was non-committal.
“You can interpret it however you want, I thought I was really clear,” he said jokingly.
In the end, Lang has a tough decision to make about his future. Back when his concussion happened, he admitted he had some tough conversations with his wife and his doctors. And Lang knows that before he makes a decision about 2019, he needs to consult some of those same people.
“I would love to play going forward, but there’s also a lot of people I need to talk to before any decision like that is made. I’ve got to wait for the dust to settle. It’s never good to make decisions when you’re emotional.”