ALLEN PARK — Justin Coleman has cleared up the biggest mystery since he was rumored earlier this week to be signing as a free agent with the Detroit Lions.
Detroit cornerback Darius Slay claims he and Coleman are cousins.
Slay, Coleman and Lions safety Tracy Walker are all from Brunswick, Ga., and all went to the same high school there, but Coleman said they are not blood relatives.
“Man, the city where we’re from everybody are cousins. We’re not blood-related but we definitely are close, we grew up together,’’ Coleman said at his introductory press conference on Thursday at the Lions headquarters.
Slay and Coleman played for a few years together in high school. At age 24, Walker is younger and is indeed blood relatives with Slay.
“It was great playing with (Slay), we never knew that we were both going to get to this point. In high school he was one of the best players on the field, he kind of motivated me to get on the field and play a lot more,’’ Coleman said. “He kind of helped me along the way being the leader that he is. I tried to compete with him so I could get better myself and it helped me to get further along the way.’’
Slay, 28, was drafted by the Lions in the second round in 2013, while Coleman was undrafted but played in 10 games with two starts for the Patriots as a rookie in 2015. He also played for Matt Patricia in New England in 2016 before moving to the Seahawks for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
“It was definitely a dream that we would come together at some point. I definitely looked up to (Slay) as a young kid to get to where he was going because I knew he was going to do something big with his life. Step by step, he led the way and we just grew up real close together, that allowed us to compete and get to this point,’’ said Coleman who turns 26 on March 27.
Coleman said he didn’t talk to Slay before he signed his four-year, $36 million ($19 million guaranteed) contract with the Lions.
But he’s heard from him since then. Slay told him, “Man, I’m so happy man, I told them they need to pay you.’’
Coleman ranks as the highest paid slot corner in the NFL, but that doesn’t seem to mean much to him.
“I kind of consider myself just another player coming to help the team. The money doesn’t matter. Of course it matters off the field — it helps my family out and helps the people close to me — but I just came here to help the team win and get to where we need to be,’’ Coleman said.
He would not be specific about how Patricia used him in New England’s defense instead saying he’s just happy to have the opportunity in Detroit.
His best traits?
“I feel like I give a lot of effort when it comes to finishing plays and just getting involved. That’s pretty much how I got here — a lot of effort, a lot of hard work,’’ Coleman said. “I’m not the biggest or the strongest or the fastest, but I can put myself in position to make it seem that way.’’