Prized Elks’ offseason signing J.T. Barrett hired by Detroit Lions as offensive assistant

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Nati Harnik

Former Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett never got a chance to throw passes in the CFL, but he’s found a new calling in the NFL coaching ranks.

The Detroit Lions announced on Saturday that Barrett has been hired as the team’s newest offensive assistant, closing the door on any return to his playing career in the immediate future.

Barrett was a prized offseason acquisition of the Edmonton Elks and was assumed by many to be entering the season as the projected starter despite having never played a CFL game. New head coach and general manager Chris Jones planned to have an open competition in training camp and was vocal about the possibility for Barrett to win the job, a rarity for CFL rookies.

However, the massive offseason hype never came to fruition, as Barrett suffered a serious injury while training in March and was forced to retire prior to the season. The team replaced him on the roster with former Ohio State teammate Cardale Jones, who was cut early in training camp.

Nick Arbuckle eventually won the starting quarterback job but has since been traded. The Elks have used three different starting quarterbacks through seven games, with four passers taking meaningful in-game snaps.

A three-time winner of the Big Ten Conference’s Griese–Brees Quarterback of the Year award, Barrett excelled for the Buckeyes from 2014 to 2017. He started 44 games and served as the first three-time captain in the program’s storied history.

The Wichita Falls, TX product burst onto the scene in 2014, going 11-1 as Ohio State’s starter and was named the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year. He finished the season with 2,834 passing yards and 34 touchdowns against 10 interceptions while adding 938 rushing yards and 11 more majors on the ground. 

Despite losing Barrett to an ankle injury in the regular season finale, the Buckeyes went on to claim the national championship with a 42-20 win over the University of Oregon Ducks.

Over his final three seasons at Ohio State, Barrett continued to excel, finishing his career with more than 25 program records. He remains the Buckeyes’ career leader in passing yards (9,434), passing touchdowns ( and completions (769).

After going unselected in the 2018 NFL Draft, Barrett signed with the New Orleans Saints, spending the majority of the season on the team’s practice roster. Stints with the Seattle Seahawks, another in New Orleans, and then the Pittsburgh Steelers followed, before a mini-camp appearance with the Dallas Cowboys in May of 2021.