Eli Harold says trade from 49ers to Lions 'hurt,' but he's 'settling in'

ByMichael Rothstein ESPN logo
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Eli Harold has been with the Detroit Lions for one week, but he already has one particular game for which he's ready. Week 2. On the road. Against the team that traded him: the San Francisco 49ers.

"It's marked," Harold said. "It's definitely marked."

Harold seemed surprised by the trade when he spoke with the Detroit media on Tuesday, saying he found out last week that he was on the move after Niners general manager John Lynch called him. Initially Harold didn't answer upon seeing a Colorado number he didn't recognize. Then Lynch texted him, saying who it was and that he had news.

Knowing it likely meant bad news, Harold called Lynch back and was told he was being traded. That, he said, is better than being cut, but that "it was tough, man." He's looking at it as a chance to start for a Lions team needing front-seven help, but not being in San Francisco anymore was "a surprise" to him.

"It hurt, man. It definitely hurt, man," Harold said. "I started my pro life there. Me and my wife moved out there my rookie year, and all of my close friends are out there and you build a rapport with a group of guys and we all came in this thing together and, you know, it hurt. But on to new things.

"I'm happy. I'm settling in. I have a good group of guys here, and I'm excited."

The 24-year-old was a third-round pick of San Francisco in 2015. He's glad somebody "wanted me enough to trade for me."

Lions coach Matt Patricia said Monday that when a team brings in a player this late in training camp, it usually does so with a role in mind for him. Patricia added it would depend what he does in practice and before Saturday's roster cut-down day.

Harold also said Tuesday that he plans to stand for the national anthem this year after he kneeled to protest social injustice last year. He said it had nothing to do with what has happened to Colin Kaepernick or Eric Reid -- both currently free agents -- but that it was the "best thing for me to do right now." He also said the Lions did not ask him about kneeling, and he felt that showed a measure of respect for him.

"I feel like that says a lot," Harold said. "They are focused on ball, just like I am. Like I told the people in San Francisco, me and my wife talked about it, and this is the best thing for me to do right now, you know. We got a baby on the way. This is a contract year.

"I just want to take everything slow and just do what I can do, man."