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Long-time Seahawk Marcus Trufant signs with Jaguars
In 10 seasons with the Seahawks, Marcus Trufant gave his heart and soul to the team that selected him in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft.
But when it became apparent that Trufant wanted to play an 11th season after becoming an unrestricted free agent in March, it was just as apparent that it wasn't going to happen with the Seahawks – a team that has spent the past four offseasons rebuilding a secondary that now features All-Pro players in Earl Thomas at free safety and Richard Sherman at left cornerback, the spot where Trufant had been the starter from 2003-04 and 2007-10; Pro Bowl-caliber players in Kam Chancellor at strong safety and Brandon Browner at right cornerback, where Trufant was the starter in 2005-06; and former Pro Bowl corner Antoine Winfield, who was signed in free agency this offseason to fill the nickel back spot Trufant played last season.
"It's a good feeling," Trufant told Jaguars.com after signing with the team the same day he visited. "It's an up-and-coming team, a young team. It's great to be a part of it."
And now, each of Lloyd and Constance Trufant's sons has a team for what will be an NFL rarity – three brothers playing in the league at the same time. Isaiah, the middle brother, has re-signed with the New York Jets. Desmond, the youngest brother, was selected in the first round of this year's draft by the Atlanta Falcons.
Trufant might be gone, but what he did for the Seahawks after being the 11th pick overall in the 2003 draft out of Washington State University will remain a large chapter in franchise history.
He started 94 of a possible 96 games from 2003-2008, before back issues limited him to nine starts in 2009 and four in 2011. He is the only cornerback in franchise history to lead the team in tackles (with 93 in 2004). He had a career-high and team-leading seven interceptions in 2007, when he also was voted to the Pro Bowl. He ranks fifth all-time in interceptions (21) and 10th in tackles (638). He was voted to the Seahawks' 35th Anniversary team.
"Marcus was a phenomenal guy, a great guy," general manager John Schneider said. "So we're really excited for him."
Schneider and coach Pete Carroll had discussed Trufant's situation with him at the end of the team's very-successful 2012 season. And Trufant had been around long enough to realize that the Seahawks were going younger at the position where he was suddenly 32.
"We had a great talk with Marcus," Schneider said. "He really wanted to play another season and, quite frankly, he can physically. He deserves it so much because he's done so much for the club and the community."
So Trufant looked to his immediate past in trying to secure his NFL future, as Bradley was the Seahawks' defensive coordinator the past four seasons before being hired by the Jaguars in January.
"It's a great fit for him, going to Jacksonville with Gus," Schneider said. "I think he'll be viewed there as a strong leader in a very young group of defensive backs."
Trufant agreed with that assessment during his interview with the Jaguars' website.
"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."
Bradley has decided to go young with his first secondary as a head coach in the league. The Jaguars selected strong safety Johnathan Cyprien in the second round of the draft, then added cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz (third round), Jeremy Harris (seventh) and Demetrius McCray (seventh) as well as safety Josh Evans (sixth). This after the team released veteran cornerback Aaron Ross and safety Dawan Landry, opted against re-signing veteran corner Rashean Mathis when he became a free agent and allowed corner Derek Cox to sign with the San Diego Chargers in free agency.
The Seahawks released Trufant last offseason, and then re-signed him. He realized that was not an option this year, and expected he'd have to wait until after the draft to sign with another team.
"After the draft is usually the time teams kind of settle in, and they know exactly the direction they want to go," he 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 ready."
Tuesday, the patience and perseverance paid off.
"It made sense," Trufant said of reuniting with Bradley in Jacksonville. "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."
Bradley has taken the always-compete philosophy he learned from Carroll the past three years to his first head-coaching stint, so that is familiar to Trufant as well.
"It's all about competition," Trufant said. "Competition is good for the team. It's good for the players. It's good for 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 around 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."
Now, Bradley has a player he knows can help spread the competitive nature.
"It was great to see him," Trufant said of Bradley. "It was all smiles and high-fives. Just his presence brings a smile to my face."
Just as the memories of everything Trufant did for the Seahawks the past 10 seasons bring smiles to the faces of those who played with him, coached him and knew him.
"Marcus is a good dude, a good man," Schneider said.