In the annals of Detroit sports history, the Detroit Lions don’t typically have players who are loyal stick around as much as other franchises.
Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson are two of the best examples, with Matthew Stafford a close third. Typically, though, it’s been easy through the years for players to ditch the team due to their frustrations.
But who are the most loyal athletes in Detroit right now? It’s a quality question, and recently, it was answered by writer Mark Keast and BetMichigan.com. Interestingly enough, the Lions do have one of the top answers on the list in offensive tackle Taylor Decker.
In order to make that determination, the site revealed their point system and methodology in a piece.
“We did a search for who was for the most loyal athlete that currently plays in Detroit using a point system that awards two points for each season played with the team, two points for each contract signed, two points for each contract signed for three or more years and four points for any pay structure changes to allow cap space for the team,” the piece said.
With that in mind, the site ranked Detroit Tigers’ slugger Miguel Cabrera as the most loyal Detroit athlete. Given his 15 years with the team and two contracts, Cabrera took home a point total of 38.
Perhaps surprisingly, Decker placed in the second spot by virtue of his 30 points, and was rewarded for having a pair of longer contracts in the city so far.
“An anchor at the position with seven seasons with the team, two contracts, two of those over three years, and one pay structure change, for 30 points,” Keast wrote.
Finally, Detroit Red Wings’ captain Dylan Larkin placed third with 28 points. Obviously to Detroit fans, all of those players represent fantastic figures in the city right now for their respective teams.
Given Decker is one of the longest tenured Lions, he’s likely become a fan favorite and a player that folks hope is able to see a winning season at some point in the near future.
As this exercise proves, he would deserve it thanks to his loyalty and desire to stick around town.
Decker’s Contract Already Lauded as Solid
The issue of Decker signing extensions comes up within the piece, and it’s fair to remember that those deals themselves have been praised as financially sound.
Decker has looked solid in Detroit while proving himself to be an elite NFL tackle and as a result, he got rewarded with a new contract a few years back. It’s a deal that stands out as a valuable one for the Lions and an example of a savvy move.
Pro Football Focus and Brad Spielberger took a look at picking out the top 32 contracts in the league for 2022 that are team-friendly, and Decker’s pact with Detroit placed on the list. It came in at 13th overall. While Spielberger did not offer analysis for Detroit’s top deal, it was reminded in the piece that Decker’s contract is a four-year, $58.3 million dollar pact, with three years and $42.65 million in cash remaining.
When the Lions brought Decker back, it was on the heels of a solid season in 2020. Decker saw injury slow him down early in 2021, but he returned for a big finish to the year and has taken no steps back in 2022, starting all 13 games the team has played this season.
For Decker to take the gamble and re-sign with the Lions when he did points to a player with some major character. It has paid off for the Lions.
Decker Becoming Vocal Leader for Lions
Not only is Decker is a great player and loyal to Detroit and the Lions, but he has become a vocal leader for the team as well, which has been very impressive to note.
Recently, on the heels of Detroit’s close defeat on Thanksgiving Day, Decker took to the media following the game to make a pretty bold statement. As he said, the team’s “SOL” mantra is dead.
“This isn’t the f***** same old Lions anymore. We’re going to go out there and get our respect and we’re going to earn that respect,” Decker told the media as tweeted by CBS Sports.
It’s clear that Decker has a major passion to see a winning team in Detroit, and is working hard to get the Lions there. He has stuck around the city and wants to see things through, which is fantastic.
Right now, he earns the distinction as one of the most loyal athletes in Detroit as a result.