Thursday, January 2, 2014
DE Young an intriguing free agent for Lions
By Michael Rothstein
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Willie Young’s plan Monday afternoon was simple. Leave the locker room, get down to the Florida Keys and do one thing for the next few days.
While that has always been the cliche for taking time off, for Young, it is the truth as he hopes his post-football career involved fishing in some sort, either by owning a fishing boat, getting his captain’s license or even hosting a fishing show on television.
With Jim Schwartz out as coach, Willie Young's future in Detroit appears uncertain.
That, though, is still in the far off future. The defensive end’s immediate future is much less clear.
Young is an unrestricted free agent and of all the Lions' free agents, perhaps the biggest question mark as to what the team will do and to what Young will do.
“Who knows, man,” Young said. “We’ll find out when my agent goes to work and starts doing some research and starts feeling around a little bit. As far as I know, it’ll be some time around the combine time or something, go around, catch all the guys in one place or something.
“My job right now is to relax, get my body back right.”
So he’ll do that by fishing and then training as he waits to figure out what is next for him.
A future in Detroit would likely be dictated by who the Lions hire as their next head coach. Young is a speed rusher who played very well against the run and pass this season. Part of it came from opportunity as well.
Young played 730 snaps this season, more than the 552 snaps he played combined in his three prior seasons with the Lions. He made 47 tackles -- 29 of them solo -- had three sacks, two fumble recoveries and four pass breakups.
He still had some penalty issues, committing six this season, and four of them were either offsides or neutral zone infractions, meaning he was mistiming snaps a lot.
Young, though, often said his success this season was a product of opportunity, one given to him by former Detroit coach Jim Schwartz and the Lions staff. And he wasn’t sure how Schwartz’s firing would affect his potential return to Detroit or if that would even be an option.
“I don’t know it affects me in a way as far as coming back here, I honestly don’t know,” Young said. “But I enjoyed playing for Coach Schwartz.”
Some of that future could be dictated by how the new coaching staff views Detroit’s current defensive ends. Ziggy Ansah had a standout rookie season and is a potential anchor at defensive end. Devin Taylor showed flashes at times, but also appeared to struggle when he saw extensive playing time.
Jason Jones is also scheduled to return from rupturing his patellar tendon against Washington, but how ready and how healthy he’ll be is unknown. So whether or not Young comes back next season could all end up being a matter of fit and price. And until a coach is in place, along with a defensive coordinator, it could be too early to tell where Young lands.
But before he starts to worry about his future, he’ll try to grab some sailfish out on the ocean.