Packers Castoff Mike Daniels Signed With Lions To Play For 'Genius' Matt Patricia

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Photo credit © Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Within an hour of being cut last week by the Packers, defensive tackle Mike Daniels heard from 13 teams. 

He signed with the Lions for one reason. 

“Coach Patricia. Flat out," Daniels said Sunday after his first time on the field with his new team. "He’s just a genius. He really is, man. He understands the game of football. He knows what it takes. To be able to play for a coach like that means everything. 

“I’m really trying to be restrained right now, because I’m just so excited. If I could do a back flip right now, I’d do one." 

The excitement is mutual. The Lions are adding Daniels to a defensive front that already features a pair of stars in Damon Harrison and Trey Flowers, and potentially a pair of stars in the making in Da’Shawn Hand and A’Shawn Robinson. That's without mentioning Romeo Okwara, who last year led the team with 7.5 sacks. 

It's the core of a defense that made huge strides in the second half of last season under Patricia. Daniels, whose deal with Detroit is worth $9.1 million over one year, is eager to be a part of it. 

"I’ve always respected the Lions’ defensive front. Now with Coach Patricia being here and seeing the guys he’s brought over, they’ve only gotten better. You couldn't help but notice. Being able to play with those guys is awesome," he said. 

Daniels, 30, has been one of the most productive defensive tackles in the NFL over his seven-year career. He can stop the run and disrupt the pass, the kind of versatile lineman who should thrive in Patricia's multiple defense.

Though he was surprised to be cut by the Packers, who saved about $8 million in cap space by doing so, Daniels believes it worked out for the best. It led him to Patricia. 

“I always respected him and I’ve always respected his work,” Daniels said. “Now I thank God. I thank God I got cut and I have an opportunity to play with a defensive genius.”

Daniels said he met Patricia when he visited with the Lions in Allen Park last week. The two talked football, and it confirmed everything Daniels already thought he knew. Patricia is a demanding coach who wants hard-nosed players.

For Daniels, it's a good fit. 

“I know he does things the right way, and that’s how I do things,” Daniels said. “I try to do things the right way as best I can. I’m glad I get an opportunity to play for a coach who demands doing things the right way.”

A Pro-Bowler in 2017, Daniels missed the last six games of 2018 with a foot injury. That's what prompted his release from the Packers. He'll get two chances this season to make them pay, but he said he doesn't hold their decision against them -- nor will he necessarily use it as fuel. 

"Hey, that's life. Things move on. Just ready to get onto the next step," Daniels said. "I've always been motivated. It didn't take for me to get cut to be motivated. I was motivated after I signed a new contract, I was motivated after I went to the Pro Bowl." 

And he's motivated now to play for a coach he's long admired. 

Asked what he can bring to Detroit's defense, Daniels said, “Whatever they need. Whatever they need, I’ll bring it. I’m just trying to be the best team player I can be.”