KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Free agency for older veteran players offers a period of uncertainty as teams often look to get young.
Wide receiver Jason Avant, who turns 33 on April 20, understands the reality while he prepares to become an unrestricted free agent when the NFL’s new calendar year begins Wednesday afternoon.
“We’ll see as the offseason rolls on,” Avant said Wednesday morning in a telephone interview. “Being a little up there in age, you usually have to wait a little bit longer, but we’ll see here in a couple of days.”
Avant spent the past two seasons with the Chiefs after joining the team on Nov. 21, 2014, days following his release from the Carolina Panthers.
The signing in Kansas City reunited Avant with coach Andy Reid, who used a fourth-round pick on Avant in 2006 while Reid coached the Philadelphia Eagles. The two spent seven seasons together in Philadelphia before Reid became the Chiefs head coach in 2013.
Given Avant’s familiarity with Reid and the offensive scheme, a potential return to Kansas City would seem natural.
But Avant, who will enter his 11th season, wants to carefully consider every scenario before making any decision, whether it’s with the Chiefs or another team.
“All options are open,” Avant said. “They know what I’m capable of doing, but at the same time I know they want to give their young guys an opportunity. Having some older guy there taking reps is not always the best scenario for a team at this stage.”
Avant appeared in all 16 games last season with one start, totaling 119 yards receiving on 15 catches.
While his production was down from 2014, Avant’s value didn’t appear in statistics.
He and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin were a steady presence behind the scenes for the Chiefs’ young wide receiver group. Avant, in particular, took on a mentorship role with the likes of Albert Wilson and Chris Conley.
Avant said he put in hard work to lead by example, and he made himself available for all the young players.
“If you’re there for a person off the field, it gives you more credibility in their lives when it comes to football or any other thing,” Avant said. “I was just trying to be a good teammate, a good friend.
“By doing that in the offseason and the year prior, it gave the guys a lot of confidence in me. So, when I would tell them certain things on how to get open or the reasons why you should do this in certain coverages, they were apt to listen.”
Possessing the ability to listen certainly applies to Avant’s current situation.
He said his agent has heard from teams in recent days, but Avant didn’t name the clubs that reached out. He categorized the interest as exploratory in nature.
“Just letting me know they have me on their radar,” Avant said. “Not necessarily negotiations at this point, but we’ll see how that goes.”
Regardless what happens in the coming weeks, Avant said he will continue his workouts at his offseason home near Philadelphia.
And given the close proximity to where his career began, is Philadelphia a desired landing spot, especially with former Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson now the Eagles head coach?
“It’s not always that easy,” Avant said. “If God willing, if it works out or if the door opens, I would definitely take the time to consider everything.”
In the meantime, teams around the league are ramping up for free agency and Avant said he will do the same by keeping himself in shape for when offers arrive.
“It’s just the first couple of days of the new (NFL) year, so I’ve been in this situation before,” Avant said. “I’m just taking my time, not worrying and just being prepared. I’ll be prepared.”