Don Muhlbach got a hell of a 40th birthday present from the Detroit Lions this week — his walking papers.
And in hindsight, Lions coach Dan Campbell said he wishes that could have been avoided.
“There’s no way to sugarcoat that,” Campbell said. “I’m an asshole, so that’s about the best way to put it.”
Muhlbach played 17 seasons with the Lions and played the second most games (260) in franchise history, behind kicker Jason Hanson. He made Pro Bowls in 2012 and 2018, but had seen his skills slip in recent years.
Campbell told reporters Tuesday, on Muhlbach’s 40th birthday, that the team planned to release Muhlbach the following day.
Muhlbach spent time meeting with Campbell and Lions management before Campbell made the move public, and the Lions had only a walk-through and meetings — and no media availability — scheduled for Wednesday when the move officially hit the NFL transaction wire.
The Lions signed outside linebacker Rashod Berry early Wednesday to take Muhlbach’s roster spot. On Thursday, they waived tight end Hunter Thedford to get to 84 players on their roster, one below the NFL limit.
“There was a number of moves like with Nick (Williams) that was coming down the wire, to get him back from COVID reserve and the linebacker and then (signing) the quarterback (Jordan Ta’amu on Tuesday) because of where we were at there and it just, once again, it’s putting a strain (on your roster),” Campbell said. “You’re looking for that spot and unfortunately it has to be on his birthday and it stinks.”
Lions outside linebacker Romeo Okwara posted a picture on Instagram early Tuesday of teammates celebrating Muhlbach’s birthday in the locker room.
Muhlbach originally signed with the Lions midway through the 2004 season and had played on a series of one-year deals since 2013.
Scott Daly is the only long snapper currently on the Lions roster.
“There’s no way around (the business side of the NFL) really,” Campbell said. “Yeah, you can say there is, but ultimately that falls on me, it’s my fault. And Don’s a hell of a dude. That sucks, but it is what it is.”
[via Detroit Free Press]