When Graham Glasgow was released by the Denver Broncos last week, he told his agent to check with one team in particular to gauge their interest in his services — the Detroit Lions.
Glasgow played his first four NFL seasons in Detroit, went to school at Michigan and has some of his best friends in football still on the team.
He and Taylor Decker were a part of the same Lions draft class in 2016, and he and Frank Ragnow remain tight from their two seasons together in Detroit.
Glasgow left the Lions under strained circumstances in 2020. He wanted to return; organizational leadership at the time did not believe in paying offensive guards; and after weirdly playing Glasgow as part of guard platoon in his final season, the Lions let him walk without making him a competitive offer in free agency.
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“I was bitter, yeah,” Glasgow admitted Monday. “But I got over that relatively quickly.”
The Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers made overtures at Glasgow last week, but once the Lions indicated there was mutual interest in a return, the only thing left to hash out was the numbers.
On Monday, Glasgow officially signed a one-year contract that could reach $4.5 million with incentives, bringing his NFL career full circle at a place he still considers home.
“(I wanted) to play with some of my friends, to play with Taylor, play with Frank,” Glasgow said. “It just came down to like, I wanted to be a part of that O-line room, I wanted to be back with my buddies and I wanted to be a part of this team.”
This year’s Lions look nothing like the 2019 version that went 3-12-1 in the last season of Glasgow’s first tenure in Detroit.
Decker, Ragnow and Tracy Walker are the only starters left from the final game that season. The Lions won as many games under Dan Campbell last year (nine) as they did in Glasgow’s final two seasons in Detroit combined. And Campbell has brought with him a new vibe that Glasgow said was evident the minute he arrived at the team’s Allen Park practice facility.
“There’s a lot of visual stuff that’s changed,” Glasgow said. “A lot of the guys around here, the demeanor is fantastic. It seems like a lot of the coaches that I’ve talked to so far, guys who I’ve known in the past, guys who’ve I’ve worked with in the past and guys who I haven’t worked with, it seems like we got a lot of straight shooters here in the coaching staff. It just seems like overall culture that they have that comes down into the locker room is good, it’s positive.”
Glasgow said he kept tabs on the Lions through Decker and other friends during his time in Denver, and his three seasons with the Broncos gave him a new appreciation for playing offensive line in the NFL.
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He started 33 games for the Broncos while navigating a heart scare in 2021, and saw time at both right guard and center last year.
In Detroit, Glasgow should have an opportunity to compete for the starting right guard job, and at worst will fill an Evan Brown-like backup role as a do-it-all interior lineman.
The Lions return four starters on one of the best offensive lines in football, Decker, Ragnow, Jonah Jackson and Penei Sewell, but let Brown walk in free agency. Halapoulivaati Vaitai, the Lions’ starting right guard in 2021, also remains under contract after missing all of last season with back problems.
Glasgow said it was “enticing” to join a line with four established starters, and he said he’s appreciative of the chance to help deliver playoff success to a team that he wanted so badly to do it for before.
“The game is very humbling and I find that being able to have an opportunity to come back to a place where I have emotional ties and even some physical ties, … to be able to come back and be a part of something special is important to me,” Glasgow said. “I think that there’s no better place for me to prove myself than where I’ve already proved myself before.”
Contact Dave Birkett at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.