T.J. Lang taking his time deciding whether to play next season

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Detroit Lions right guard T.J. Lang said he hasn’t made a decision yet on whether he’ll return to the team for the 2019 season, the final year of his contract.

Lang, who spoke Monday for the first time since being placed on injured reserve on Nov. 14, said no one wants to walk away from the game right after the season ends but that he’ll take some time to ponder the decision.

"I think everybody wants to have a chance to go out on their terms, and I’m no different,” Lang said. “I’m not going to make a decision one way or the other anytime soon. I’ve had a lot of time off the last couple months.

“I’ve been trying to keep myself busy around here and helping out in different ways with the guys. Haven’t really thought about it too much and no rush. Take some more time, however much time I need and let kind of the dust settle and kind of go from there.”

Lang said the neck injury that put him on injured reserve was “severe enough” to keep him out for the season but not to end his career. He didn’t need surgery on his neck and that he’s getting back to full health.

Lang said he has felt good “for the past couple weeks” and that 2018 was frustrating because of his consistent injuries.

One of the biggest questions with Lang, beyond whether he wants to continue to play, is whether the Lions have interest in keeping the 31-year-old. When he’s healthy, he has been a difference-maker on the offensive line, but his health has been a problem in his two seasons in Detroit.

Lang is due $11,666,668 against the cap next season -- $9 million in cash – and also has a $500,000 roster bonus due to him the fifth day of the 2019 league year. So he’s a player, with no guaranteed money, who could be a cap casualty if Detroit wanted to move on.who

There’s also a chance, considering Lang is from Michigan and has no interest in leaving the state whenever he’s done playing, that the franchise could offer him a pay cut with a chance to stay with the Lions.

Some players might scoff at that – especially in a physical game like football – but Lang didn’t rule out the possibility of it Monday if that’s what it came to.

“I would be open to playing next year,” Lang said. “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.”

When asked to clarify if that was a yes or a no, Lang said, “You can interpret it however you want. I think I was pretty clear with that.”

If the Lions moved on from Lang or Lang chose to retire, right guard would become one of Detroit’s top needs to fill this offseason –and realistically, a position they should probably draft even if Lang does return. Lang hasn’t played a full season since 2014 and has missed 13 of a possible 32 games in his two seasons with Detroit. Detroit has Kenny Wiggins, Joe Dahl and Leo Kolomatangi under contract as possible options at right guard as well, figuring Frank Ragnow will stay at left guard or move to center and Graham Glasgow, Detroit’s starting center, can also play either spot.