JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars weren’t
But after spending time with not only with his new head coach but a lot of staff, Bryant said he knew quickly the Jaguars were his best option.
“It was an opportunity I felt was too good to pass up,” Bryant said on a media conference call Monday.
Bryant, a seven-year veteran defensive end, signed as a free agent with the Jaguars Saturday, a move that came days after his release from the Seattle Seahawks.
Bryant, who played all six of his previous NFL seasons with Seattle – including four, 2009-2012, when Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley was defensive coordinator there – was immediately eligible to negotiate with other teams. He said he had visits planned to Green Bay Sunday and Kansas City Monday, and also received interest from the Washington Redskins.
“I had expressed to Gus that I had given Kansas City my word that I would come in for a visit,” Bryant said Monday. “(General Manager) David Caldwell, the trainers, the strength coach, all of the coaches on the staff … they made me feel so welcome and made me feel like I could really come in and be a factor in what they’re trying to do.
“It was an opportunity I felt was too good to pass up. I’m just so excited for this next chapter in my career. Hopefully I’ll be able to have the same type of success that I had in Seattle in Jacksonville.”
Bryant said while he knew Bradley and Jaguars defensive line coach Todd Wash from Seattle, Caldwell also influenced his decision.
“He gave me an opportunity to let me know what the direction the football team is going to be moving forward, and the hint that I got was good,” Bryant said, adding, “He told me what he would be expecting from me. (He) also made me feel like he was confident in bringing me into the organization.
“He told me he watched a lot of tape on me and he liked what he saw. That’s what he wants me to bring to the team. Although most people want to say Coach Bradley influenced me, (Caldwell) definitely did his due diligence in terms of studying tape and finding out what kind of person I am and what he’s getting and what his expectations for me are.”
Bryant, though listed by many as a defensive tackle, played mostly a five-technique defensive end spot in Seattle. That defense was implemented in Seattle by Bradley, and it’s essentially the same defense now used in Jacksonville.
Bryant, who said Monday he can still play inside if needed, is expected to also play the five technique in Jacksonville, with veteran
“It’s been a good fit for me in terms of it’s made me get on the field and give to the team with my tendencies,” Bryant said.
And while Bryant said Bradley wasn’t his sole reason for choosing the Jaguars, he did say the Jaguars’ second-year head coach played a factor in the decision – and that the overall leadership direction made Jacksonville attractive.
“I speak on Gus from personal experience,” Bryant said. “I know he’s going to do everything in his power to help the Jacksonville Jaguars be a successful team. He’s got a knack for talent. The general manager has a knack for talent.
“They have a vision, from the owner to the general manager, to everybody in the program, they know what their vision is and they are committed to it. They’re not going to spare any expense. When you have that type of commitment to winning and that commitment to excellence, only good things can happen.”
Bryant compared joining the Jaguars this offseason to the building process he experienced in Seattle. The Seahawks went 4-12 and 5-11 in his first two seasons and then made the playoffs at 7-9 in Carroll’s first season. After a 7-9 non-playoff season, the Seahawks have made the postseason the past two seasons and won the Super Bowl last season.
“A lot of people forget the journey that led up to the Super Bowl,” Bryant said. “There were a lot of shortcomings and hard falls and we persevered. I was there during the whole process. I know what it takes. I know what type of commitment you have to have from the front office. That’s the same commitment that I see the Jacksonville Jaguars having.
“I really believe the future is going to be bright. I really do.”
And while he called leaving the Seahawks “bittersweet,” he said he’s more than ready to transition to a new situation.
“When one door closes, another opportunity opens,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate that I had other teams willing to bring me in and make me a part of their franchise. It’s a win-win for everybody. The Seahawks had to do what was best for them and their program. I was able to go somewhere else where they felt like I could still contribute and have a big part of their success in the future. It’s bittersweet, but that’s life. You always have to be willing to transition and my profession is no different than anybody else’s profession in that you just have to go on and make the best of your opportunities.
“I know it’s a business from the top down and I believe Jacksonville is definitely moving in the right direction, and I am excited about being there.”