Former Lions Wideout Questions Team’s Front Office

Jace Billingsley

Getty Jace Billingsley in the preseason with the Lions.

Jace Billingsley might not be a name that plenty of Detroit Lions fans remember, but the former wide receiver has resurfaced and has made some bold statements about the franchise.

After Billingsley, who has transitioned from his football life to get involved in music, included a photo of Detroit’s duo of Bob Quinn and Rod Wood wearing clown noses in a music video, the wideout was questioned by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press and provided some answers as it related to his attire.

Here’s a look at what Billingsley said in the piece:

“I don’t think Bob and Rod are bad people,” Billingsley said in a text message. “But I don’t agree with a lot of the ways they ran the organization. I believe they tried to have too much control over the coaches and players, and I think they make many decisions that have their own interests prioritized over what is best for the team.”

Billingsley sent that message as a follow-up to a 20-minute phone interview with the Free Press, and he said “the fact that they cut me has nothin’ to do with” the grainy photo he used in the video for his first single, “Battle Born.”

For his part, Billingsley didn’t make any excuses about his own play in the same piece, taking ownership of the fact that he never ended up as a mainstay on Detroit’s roster. It seems as if his beef is more a business issue rather than a personal issue.

Portraying the duo as clowns in a music video is certainly an interesting way to voice such frustrations.

Jace Billingsley Stats

Coming from Detroit as an undrafted free agent from Eastern Oregon in 2016, Billingsley made an impression as a slot wideout during the preseason and made a ton of catches in order to stick on the team’s practice squad. He jumped around on the roster and on the practice squad at different points between 2016 and 2017. In spite of that. Billingsley was waived by the Lions during roster cuts in 2018. He signed with the New England Patriots, but was not able to crack the roster full time there.

While playing for Eastern Oregon in his final season, Billingsley put up 1,931 all-purpose yards. With the Lions, Billingsley was often a fan favorite for his tough play and scrappy status, as well as seemingly always being on the team’s roster bubble.

Other Lions Voice Displeasures

Billingsley’s commentary might be hitting on a trend as it relates to the team lately in terms of their relationship with former players.

Quandre Diggs was recently dealt away, and had a theory as to why it was the case. According to Diggs, he believes it has everything to do with who he is. As he explained to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, when Diggs was dealt to the Seattle Seahawks, he believes it had plenty to do with personality, and what he deems as an issue of power and control for the franchise.

Here’s a look at what Diggs said to Birkett about his take on the move a few weeks later:

“There wasn’t one incident that precipitated his trade to the Seattle Seahawks, but former Detroit Lions safety Quandre Diggs said his strong personality is ultimately what led the Lions to ship him out of town.

“I think it was more of just a control thing,” Diggs told the Free Press in a phone interview Thursday to promote Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s recent launch. “Them wanting to control the locker room. Control the locker room, control voices in the locker room.”

Diggs said Thursday he holds “no ill will” towards the franchise for the trade, and he expressed love for his former teammates, the city, Lions owner Martha Ford and the team brass that brought him to Detroit, former general manager Martin Mayhew, president Tom Lewand and coach Jim Caldwell.

Asked about his relationship with current Lions coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn, Diggs said, “It is what it is.”

That sounds like a very icy exit from the team. It’s fair to remember as pointed out that Diggs was a holdover from the previous regime, with former general manager Martin Mayhew drafting him and Jim Caldwell coaching him through his first few years in the league.

Change is going to happen in terms of fan favorites being moved when new coaching staffs take over with a different plan, but the move to deal Diggs seemed odd given his status as a team captain as well as a player the Lions had recently given a contract extension.

Whatever the reason, Diggs has now had his chance to sound off and explain why he feels he was moved, and it could sound a lot like the same frustrations Billingsley had in terms of the brass.

Whether this is a troubling trend or just merely a coincidence is yet to be seen.

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