T.J. Ward is one of multiple NFL veteran safeties who remain unemployed.
Ward, who has eight seasons of NFL experience, spent last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after three years with the Denver Broncos (helping them to a victory in Super Bowl 50) and four with the Cleveland Browns.
‘I’m eager to get with a team that’s looking for my type of leadership’
“It’s been a strange offseason, especially for the safety market,” Ward told Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on Movin’ The Chains. “There’s some great talent out there, some guys that have been around and done great things in this league and for whatever reason, we’re on the outside looking in right now, looking to get on a team that we can help. And I know this group of players really can help a team, especially myself. I’m eager to get with a team that’s looking for my type of leadership and my type of quality of play. For whatever reason, it’s just been strange. I don’t know what’s going on.”
Ward also is at a loss to explain why he did a one-and-one season with the Buccaneers. He suspects it has to do with being a bad fit for the scheme of defensive coordinator Mike Smith.
‘For whatever reason, me and the coaching staff just didn’t see eye-to-eye’
“It was just a bunch of hiccups we had, and me, personally, it just didn’t go as planned,” Ward said. “For whatever reason, me and the coaching staff just didn’t see eye-to-eye. I didn’t get the playing time I was expecting to get and it was just a rough year. Maybe it was just the system, I can’t put my finger on it, honestly, but it was a tough year for me all the way around.
“Most of the systems I’ve played in have been more man-based, single-high safety, one safety in the box most of the time and the other one in the middle of the field. And I tend to do more of the dirty work. I’m at the line of scrimmage, I’m covering the tight ends one-on-one, I’m covering the backs. I’m moving around and in Mike (Smith’s) defense, I was pretty stationary, just kind of sitting on the back end, waiting and that’s really not my style of play. I can do it, but it’s not my style. I just don’t enjoy it, either. I enjoy moving around, confusing the quarterback, playing the mind game with the guys on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage. That’s the type of defense I play, I’m an aggressive player and I just wasn’t allowed to do any of that.
‘I’m still the T.J. Ward that you remember that I’ve always been’
“It doesn’t really matter where I play. I’m just eager to get back out there, put my foot back down and let the league know that I’m still here and I’m still the T.J. Ward that you remember that I’ve always been. That’s the most important thing to me.”
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