The thought of Titus Young returning to the Detroit Lions is preposterous – but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
“If it was just based off this year, we might not consider bringing him back,” Mayhew said. “If you go back to 2011, and you look at his ability to function in this offense, his ability to get along with his teammates, the production he gave us as a receiver, he’s demonstrated the ability to be a very productive player in this league. I think he really unlocked the offense in 2011 and was one of the reasons we were able to win 10 games.
“He’s shown that he can be a productive teammate, and that he can be a good teammate. He’s shown that, but he’s also shown he can be difficult to work with, so we’ll figure it out.”
Productive or not, football is a game of trust and it is hard to see any of Young’s teammates ever trusting him again. He literally punched one teammate in the head before the season even began and then figuratively punched the rest of the team when he intentionally lined up incorrectly late in the home loss to the Packers.
Still, it seems the Lions’ efforts to work with Young are more than lip service. He was accompanied by his parents at the Lions’ facility yesterday – a possible indication of a last effort to save Young’s career in Detroit by surrounding him with the right kind of people to support him.
Mayhew did say that a plan is in place that may allow for Young’s return in 2013.
This should both scare and, at least on a small level, excite Lions fans.
First, the scary part.
As hard as it may be to envision, let’s say Titus Young lives up to his end of “the plan” and is somehow able to mend fences with the portion of the Lions locker room that will return in 2013. There still is no guarantee that Young won’t develop another attitude problem. Is that the kind of risk the Lions should take going into what is a very important year for all involved in the organization? It doesn’t seem like it and I sure hope they aren’t trying to make the most of this situation simply as a result of the injuries to Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles. If they are at all worried about the return of either of their injured receivers, turning to Titus Young is among the worst possible solutions.
But that doesn’t mean trying to work with Young would be entirely fruitless.
It remains within the realm of possibility that Titus Young has learned, or is in the process of learning, that the meaningful portion of his NFL career could be over if he doesn’t change his ways. That doesn’t mean the Lions will necessarily keep him around – that represents a dangerous risk-reward scenario that I just discussed. It does, however, open up the possibility of getting something for Titus Young in a trade. Putting Young on a path to potentially returning to the Lions gives the team something of substance to discuss with other teams regarding Young’s response to the situation he put himself in. Maybe too many bridges have been burned within the Lions locker room but that doesn’t mean he can’t have a fresh start in a different locker room.
Many called for the Lions to cut Young after his antics against the Packers in November. No one would have faulted the Lions for doing so but what difference would that have made? The Lions were still able to keep him away from the team for the rest of the 2012 season and if the situation doesn’t play out where the Lions can benefit even in the slightest, they can cut him during the offseason. That’s worth the chance to add even a sixth round pick.