Part of Reggie McKenzie wanted D.J. Hayden back with the Oakland Raiders, and if the money had been different it might have happened.

But McKenzie also knew that, for Hayden to reach his potential as a cornerback, he had to say good-bye to the team that made him the 12th pick of the 2013 draft.

The Lions signed Hayden to a one-year deal last month.

"I think he probably made a good decision by getting away from Oakland," McKenzie told the Free Press at the NFL owners meetings last week. "Fresh start."

Hayden played in 45 of a possible 64 games with the Raiders over four seasons and had just three interceptions. He was a part-time starter who had success playing out of the nickel position last year, but he dealt with a slew of injuries that stalled his career.

McKenzie made Hayden his first ever first-round draft pick — the Raiders didn't have a first-rounder in McKenzie's first season as GM in 2012. He said he fell in love with Hayden as a college player for two reasons:

"As a cornerback from athletic standpoint, he moves as easy as anybody," McKenzie said. "His feet, his explosion, quickness. He’s real. So that was encouraging. And the type of worker he was. You know he’s going to bust his butt."