Despite joining many of his high-first-round peers from 2013 in not living up to their draft statuses, D.J. Hayden signed a one-year, $3.75MM deal from the Lions. He will be looking to bounce back after four inconsistent seasons with the Raiders. His former GM agrees that Hayden needed to go elsewhere.
“I think he probably made a good decision by getting away from Oakland,” Reggie McKenzie told the Detroit Free Press at the NFL owners meetings last week. “Fresh start.”
McKenzie considered making a push to re-sign the former No. 12 overall pick, and per the Free Press’ Dave Birkett, that might have happened if Hayden came at more of a discount. But the sixth-year Raiders GM concluded that if Hayden was going to reach his potential as an NFL corner he would have to leave Oakland. The injuries that dogged Hayden “killed his confidence,” per McKenzie. Hayden played in 16 games just once in his four Raider years, in 2015, and missed the final five games last season. The Lions are expected to give Hayden a quality opportunity to win their slot corner job alongside Darius Slay and Nevin Lawson.
“All he lacked, and it’s hard coming from a near-death situation and being thrown right in and had a couple relapses because of the illness, but he was always playing behind the 8-ball from a physical standpoint,” McKenzie said. “So if he gets that behind him, his confidence will grow. He never, I think in his whole time in Oakland, the confidence for him to really thrive was not where it needed to be.”
Here’s more from around league.
- The Titans may have a different view of Connecticut safety prospect Obi Melifonwu than some other teams. They worked out the UConn product today as a cornerback, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). The organization reportedly likes the 6-foot-4, 224-pound player’s size and cover skills. Melifonwu also has a 4.40-second 40-yard dash clocking, which is good for a corner while being excellent for a safety. The ex-Huskies back-line defender being envisioned as a corner isn’t merely a Titans viewpoint, though, with around 40 percent of NFL teams categorizing the safety this way.
- Adrian Peterson‘s Patriots visit strikes Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk as a tactic aimed at getting LeGarrette Blount‘s attention. Noting New England’s secretive nature, this Monday summit being made public now and not after the fact leads Florio to believe this is a get-acquainted session at best. Florio writes this could be a method used at getting Blount to take what’s being offered instead of holding out for more money on the heels of an 18-touchdown season. Blount and the Patriots broke off talks last month.
- Prior to actually participating in Wrestlemania 33, Rob Gronkowski said he would be ready to go by the time the Patriots’ offseason program begins later this month, In an interview with ESPN’s Jonathan Coachman (video link), Gronk said he feels good after his latest surgery and would be “ready to roll” when the team reconvenes on April 17. The soon-to-be 28-year-old tight end underwent back surgery in December.
- Saints coach Sean Payton expects recovering linebacker Michael Mauti to be ready by the time training camp comes, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com reports. Stricken with an intestinal disease, the 27-year-old linebacker did not play in eight Saints games last season because of it. He remains a UFA, but the Saints have interest in retaining the backup defender. Mauti contemplated having a surgery to fix this years-long problem last spring but opted against since he was going into a contract year. Energy and weight loss led to the Saints placing Mauti on their NFI list in November, and he underwent surgery in December. The team still paid him his full $675K salary last season. Mauti told Katzenstein he wants to continue his career with the Saints.