JACKSONVILLE – The decision felt right immediately.
Trufant, an 11-year veteran cornerback who spent his first 10 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks – the last four of which Bradley spent there as defensive coordinator – said that made signing with the Jaguars Tuesday a logical decision.
“I’m a Jacksonville Jaguar,” he said shortly after becoming the seventh unrestricted free agent signed by the team this offseason.
“It’s a good feeling. It’s an up-and-coming team, a young team. It’s great to be a part of it.”
Trufant, the No. 11 selection by the Seahawks in the 2003 NFL Draft, became the most senior member of a cornerback unit that has undergone a major transition this offseason. The team selected five defensive backs in the 2013 NFL Draft late last month, including three cornerbacks:
Trufant, 32, said his role in the secondary will be “a little bit of everything.”
“I just finished my 10th year, so I’m able to bring some wisdom to the table,” Trufant said. “At the same time, I’m here to compete, to try to help the team wherever I can.”
Trufant, a 2007 Pro Bowl selection, started 125 of 136 games in 10 seasons, and started the first four games in 2011 before missing 11 games with a back injury. He returned last season to play in 12 games, primarily as a nickel corner.
Trufant became a free agent following the 2012 season. He said he figured an opportunity would open following the NFL Draft in late April.
“After the draft is usually the time teams kind of settle in, and they know exactly the direction they want to go,” Trufant said. “They know who they want to bring in and what they have. I’ve kind of been waiting by the phone. I’ve been staying in shape and I’ve just been being ready.”
Trufant said while he only has played for one previous NFL team, having playing in Bradley’s defensive scheme should help smooth the transition. The Jaguars are expected to play a physical, aggressive coverage scheme emphasizing press coverage.
“It made sense,” Trufant said. “It’s a great fit. A lot of the language, a lot of the scheme, a lot of the stuff that I dealt with with Gus for four years, there’s a lot of carryover. I should be able to guide some of the younger players along, but at the same time, I’m trying to get better myself.
“I’m coming into my 11th year, but I always feel like I have things to work on and I can get better. That’s my goal.”
“It’s all about competition,” Trufant said. “Competition is good for the team. It’s good for the players. It’s good for the morale. It makes everybody better. If you’re competing every day, all you do is get better. That should be Gus’ goal. That should be the team’s goal.
“It becomes a culture, just a way of life on the building, on the field, at home. It’s all about competition – not just on the field, in the meeting rooms, off the field. It’s in so many different phases and so many different aspects. It gets ingrained in your head.”
Trufant said his message to the Jaguars’ younger secondary players will be simple, that in the NFL “you don’t win every battle.”
“But you have to be able to stay focused, and you have to remain consistent,” Trufant said. “You have to stay within yourself and play battle.”
Trufant said while he will take a leadership role, he leads more by example than talk.
“I’ve never been a guy who’s going to stand on the stage and give long speeches,” Trufant said. “I try to come to work every day to set an example, do a job and do it well.”