The “legal tampering” period of free agency is still a few weeks away, but that hasn’t stopped Detroit Lions guard T.J. Lang from doing a little legal-ish collusion along the way.
On Tuesday, the Chicago Bears informed veteran guard Josh Sitton that they will not be picking up his $8 million option for the 2018 season. That means Sitton will become a free agent at the start of the 2018 NFL year on March 14.
The Detroit Lions just so happen to have a pressing need at guard. With 2017 starting center Travis Swanson expected to hit free agency and guard Graham Glasgow likely to shift over to center, that leaves a gaping hole at left guard that Detroit will need to address this offseason... and Lang knows it.
So after news broke that Sitton’s option was not being picked up, Lang went to Twitter to try and recruit Sitton to Detroit (h/t: Lions Wire for finding it first)
I’ve got a place for you to stay big boy! https://t.co/6II1O3thmm— TJ Lang (@TJLang70) February 21, 2018
Lang and Sitton go way back, as the two were teammates with the Packers for seven straight years. Both made Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl in Green Bay but are now entering the twilight of their careers.
Sitton will be 32 before the 2018 season begins, but he’s still playing at a very high level. According to Pro Football Focus, Sitton was the No. 5 rated guard in all of the league in 2018. “There is no better pass blocking guard in the game than Josh Sitton,” PFF’s Sam Monson wrote back in December.
Sitton could be that final piece of the puzzle the Lions’ offensive line really needs. Despite spending a lot of resources on the offensive line over the past two seasons, the Lions are still one of the poorest teams at both run blocking and pass protection. If Sitton were to come to Detroit, Bob Quinn would finally be responsible for acquiring all five starters along the offensive line and would have no excuses for poor play along the front five—especially with a brand new offensive line coach in place.
But Detroit would also be risking a lot of their future on aging players. Both Sitton and Lang dealt with multiple injuries last season, and recovery is only going to take longer and longer as their careers wind down. Sitton will also command a pretty hefty salary, even at 31, as one of the best free agent guards out there. Detroit already shelled out huge contracts to Rick Wagner (28) and Lang (30) last season. Adding Sitton to the list would make sense in the short term, but would raise a lot of questions about the long-term future of the offensive line.
Still, it’s hard not to see how perfect of a fit Sitton is for the 2018 season. We’ll have to see if Lang’s word carries any weight in Sitton’s upcoming decision.