The business side of the NFL ended Jarran Reed's time with the Seahawks after five seasons, but despite things not working out during that 2021 offseason, neither Reed nor the team that drafted him closed the door on a potential reunion somewhere down the road.
And two years later, after spending a season with Kansas City and one in Green Bay, Reed indeed ended up back in Seattle, signing with the team that made him a second-round pick in 2016.
"They had a decision to make, I had a decision to make, and obviously I made that one and they had to make theirs," Reed said of his 2021 release after the sides could not agree on a restructured deal. "There were no hard feelings, it was just all business. Eventually, it led me back here.
"Nobody really wanted to part ways, but the door was always open. That was the one thing that I knew… When I left, I knew there would always be a possibility of me coming back; it was just when. They had to move on, I had to move on, but it eventually led us back to here, back to me being a 12 again."
As was the case with Bobby Wagner, who also returned to the Seahawks this offseason, and as has been the case with so many other players over the years, the culture built in Seattle by Pete Carroll and John Schneider was far more significant than any lingering hard feelings over an earlier breakup.
"I think it is that the Seahawks let you be you as a person," Reed said. "To them, it's more than just football. In some organizations, it's strictly football and they want you to be a certain type of way, act a certain way, look a certain way, and dress a certain way, but here, they let you be you. They let your personality show in the most respectful way. I feel like you as a person can be free. You can play better that way when you are free as a person, you can express yourself as a person and who you are, which I think everybody has a right to do. Those type of things, along with the culture and the coaching staff, you have fun around there. You have fun, you have a good time, and you actually enjoy being at work. All of those things accumulate to just wanting to be there.
"When you get to know the people in the building, it gets beyond football. I have built a relationship with the equipment guys, I've built a relationship with the cafeteria staff, and I've built a relationship with the weight training coaches. Everything for me personally on my end was just built around being family oriented. I was really comfortable there and I felt like I was at home. That's just the organization, it speaks for itself. When I say this, which is huge, a team or organization is letting you be you. That is very key because you get to be yourself without people being judgmental and people judging you or questioning you on why you are doing this or why you are wearing that or why you look like that. They know that you are a good person on the inside and they are good people on the inside as well. As long as you come to work, do what you are supposed to do, and stay out of the way, those are the best combinations that you can have, especially in a professional league dealing with a professional organization."
And as much as Seattle feels like the right fit for Reed, he also feels like he'll be a great fit in a defense that has changed significantly since he last played here in 2020. Last year in particular, Reed played in a Packers system that was similar to Seattle's, at least in terms of what it asks of its linemen up front.
"In Green Bay, we played a 3-4 defense, and I was a 3-technique, a big defensive end when needed. I'm well equipped with playing in any type of scheme that it would be if we decide to change it up, play a 4-3 or go to a 3-4. I feel like, now, I fit in in any one of those."
"We played that system at Alabama as well, so I am very comfortable in it. I don't think there will be any type of issues and I can just slide in and fit perfectly as long as we know the terminology that we are using and different types of other things like when we play in certain personnels. Just along with that, I don't think it will be much of a difference, I think it will be fairly similar."
Reed is also looking forward to playing once again for Seahawks defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt, who during Reed's earlier stint with Seattle was his position coach for four of Reed's five seasons as a Seahawk.
"He had a major impact on my game. He came in and had been coaching for about four years before I left," Reed said. "Clint is a great coach and an even greater person. When you build that relationship with somebody, somebody who helps you grow as a person and a man, it's hard to break that. Just being back with him is just another plus, being back with the guys who helped shape me into the football player that I am in the league, it's just a great feeling."