When Lions OT Tyrell Crosby declined to show up for OTA's last month amid rumors the club was trying to trade him after drafting Penei Sewell seventh overall, the natural conclusion was that Crosby was upset. That he stayed home to send a message.
Not the case.
Crosby, who reported to Allen Park for the mandatory minicamp this week, said Tuesday he skipped OTA's to spend more time with family after a pandemic season spent mostly by himself.
"Pretty much had to miss my entire family throughout all of last season," he said. "That was the first time I haven’t had the opportunity to have any family members at a home game, missed my birthday, Thanksgiving, all that. So I just spent that time with my family and appreciating loved ones."
Plus, as Crosby learned in 2020, "you can do OTA’s and work from wherever you’re at, and I had a solid year last year."
He sure did. After Detroit's big free agent acquisition Halapoulivaati Vaitai flopped at right tackle, Crosby started 11 games there and played well. He missed the final four games of the season due to an ankle injury, but otherwise made the most of the biggest opportunity of his career.
Then the Lions drafted their right tackle of the future. But Crosby wasn't upset. No, he said he was "one of the happiest people on earth." The Lions' right tackle of the future happened to be a fellow Oregon product and one of Crosby's close friends.
"I took that moment as, football is finite to me, but friendships can last forever -- and he’s a great friend of mine," Crosby said. "So I wasn’t even thinking anything football related. I was just so excited to see my friend who I know has put in so much work get the opportunity that he deserved and get drafted in the first round."
Still, with Sewell in the fold, Crosby felt like the odd man out on Detroit's O-line. Sure enough, ESPN reported a couple weeks later that Crosby's name was "floating around" the trade block and that the Lions will "look to move" him.
Crosby saw it. Of course he did.
"I mean, it’s impossible with how social media is to not see it, but I haven’t clicked on anything. Really haven’t heard much from the front office or anything about it, so I’m just thankful to be here and excited to compete," Crosby said.
A fifth-round pick in 2018, Crosby is entering the final year of his rookie deal that pays him $2.2 million in 2021. He's shown what he can do as a starter, but he might be stuck on the bench in his contract season. With that in mind, has he asked for a trade?
"I haven’t even thought about it," he said. "I’ve just been doing my own thing."
Does he want to be traded if starting isn't an option?
"I mean, I have no true control over that. So my opinion right now is just take every day at a time and go out and compete," he said.
After all, the competition at right tackle is just beginning. Who's to say Crosby can't win it? Sewell has already admitted to some growing pains switching from the left side of the line to the right, and Crosby has three years of NFL experience to his advantage.
"Nothing’s set in stone," Crosby said. "And for me, I really love to go out and compete. Since they first drafted me in 2018, whatever my role is for the team I’ve gone and done to the best of my ability."
How it all plays out remains to be seen. But if Sewell isn't ready to start come Week 1, the Lions will have a reliable fall-back in Crosby -- assuming he's still around.