Pewter Report was on hand for Tuesday's press conference for new Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson, cornerback Eric Wright and left guard Carl Nicks. The following is a transcript of the 32-minute press conference.
General manager Mark Dominik’s opening statement
“Great day in Buccaneer history. Been a very exciting 24 hours for our organization. Each one of these men had a situation where they were desired by their original organizations to be brought back, so there was a lot of calculation, a lot of work behind the scenes to get to where we are today." Head coach Greg Schiano’s opening statement
“These are all guys who their own football teams desperately wanted to hang on to and to have them in Tampa, we’re very excited. The Glazer family, for being willing to do the things they needed to do. I was asked early on when I got here, 'Was there a commitment?' And I said unequivocally, there was a commitment to being the best and we sitting next to the best here. I can’t wait to coach these guys.” Opening statement from Vincent Jackson
“The ownership started out on the right foot, by flying us in last night. And Coach [Schiano] was right there to pick us up at the airport and that says a lot about the character he has and what he’s about. And everything I’ve heard so far today, it’s about family here, and I’m excited to be a part of this family. These teammates next to me, we’re all looking forward to contributing. We’ve got a lot of good young players and we’re all looking to fall right into that mold and make this team a contender.” Opening statement from Eric Wright
“What was stressed about Tampa is that it’s family. I noticed that right out of the gate. We were able to go to (a private) airport for the first time in my life and get on a private jet and fly out and now we’re here at a press conference. It all happens fast and that’s just because everybody wants to jell together and meet your teammates and who you’re going to be working with. Luckily, I was able to go through this process last year and get to know some of these people, so you work out with people as well that you know on this team and they all say the same thing. It’s a team you want to play for and an organization that you want to be a part of. Everyone has one goal and that’s to win. So I’m here to help them win and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Opening statement from Carl Nicks
“Flying in the jet, I’m not the smallest guy, but I felt totally special. It’s a humbling experience. I’m excited to be here. I’m familiar with the division and I’m excited to be a part of a team that’s young and we have great guys coming in. We’re going to get physical in the run game and that’s what I’m all about. I talked to Coach a little bit yesterday and he really got me fired up about his plan and his passion for the game. It’s a blessing, again.” Jackson discussing playing with Josh Freeman
“I actually got to run into him in the cafeteria here at lunch and I think we’ll have a pretty good basketball team here in the offseason as well. Josh is a big strong kid, he’s sharp guy. You can tell he’s hungry. He’s hungry to get better. He’s hungry to be one of the elite quarterbacks in this league. He has all the physical tools there and with this coaching staff, they’re going to continue to work with him and I’m excited to work with him. I think he’s definitely going to be one of the top quarterbacks in the coming years. I’m happy to be here.”
Jackson on what led him to sign with Tampa
“We believe in what they have here. Obviously, we all come from places that have been playing good football, and if it wasn’t for Coach and his staff, and the Glazer family and them believing in us, giving us an opportunity to go somewhere and be a part of something special. If you want to call it rebuilding, you can call it that, but we think there’s a lot of good things happening here in this city and I think all of us were very excited to play in a place like this.” Jackson on being a part of the foundation
“It’s very appealing to us. It’s an opportunity to do something special. Obviously, if we didn’t believe it could happen here with what they have here, we probably would have stayed where we’re at. Coach called me yesterday, right on time, and he said, 'Hey, we’re going to start this thing from the beginning, there’s a lot of new faces out here, but we’re all hungry.' We’re all here hungry to prove something, and I can’t wait for that first ball to be kicked off. There’s a lot of work before we do that. I’m just excited to be a part of that.” Jackson on if he even had a chance to consider other offers
“Yeah, there was an opportunity there, but these guys, they didn’t leave much to doubt. They were very aggressive and very open with me from the very beginning, so there wasn’t much time to consider much else. There definitely were other offers on the table, but once they presented how they felt about me, there was no question where I was going to go.” Nicks on how much the Bucs' pursuit of Jackson and Wright affected his decision to come to Tampa
“Right when I got off the plane after flying here I checked my phone and saw they had signed Jackson and I was like, 'Okay, they’re doing something here.' They’re starting fresh and to be a part of something that is eventually going to be great, it’s a good feeling. Being a building block, it’s a good feeling and it makes you humble and want to work so I look forward to the challenge.” Jackson on being on a rebuilding team
“It’s all perspective. If you want to go off last year’s schedule, I don’t think the team that will be starting the new season will be the team that started last year. It already looks different from the outside in. It’s a new slate. We’re starting right at the same level as the other 31 teams in the league and that’s how we’re going to approach it. We don’t;’ feel like we’re coming from behind or anything like that. We feel like we have a great opportunity in front of us and that’s the way we’re going to approach it.” Jackson on what his role is expected to be
“I’m just going to continue to be the person I’ve always been – a guy that’s obviously going to work hard and lead by example on the field, and we do have some good young players on offense that I want to share my knowledge with. But I’m sure there are things they can share with me and we’re going to work with each other and continue make each other better. I’m not coming here trying to be any more than just a contributor for this team and be the player they are looking for me to be. With the parts you have here, with Josh Freeman and the coaching staff we have and the big powerful running backs we have, and players I haven’t even met yet, but I know we have the tools here to do great things and I just look forward to just doing my part.” Jackson on how his strengths complement others
“This is going to be a dynamic offense. We’re going to pound the ball and we definitely want to, every now and then, take the top off the defense, so I’m exited to be a part of that. The run game, the pass game – intermediate. We want to be dynamic and I want to be a dynamic receiver. I don’t just want to be a guy that has to be a bomb threat every time. I can do things to open up guys on the other side, work over the middle, anything they’re looking for me to do. I’m going to work hard at being that complete receiver for this team.” Jackson on waiting a long time to be a free agent after being franchised before
“It’s a great feeling. It has been a meticulous road I had to travel to get here and I expect to do what I do best, which is just play football and be the best player I can be and the rest takes care of itself. This is a perfect example of that, so I’m just going to continue on that path and be the best football player I can be for this organization. I don’t feel any added pressure. We’re all professionals here. We have a job to do and I just expect to contribute and be a part of something great.” Wright on the coach’s expectations for him
“They just expect me to come in and help in any way I can. In my history I have played left corner, right corner, I have played the nickel back. I’ve played all three positions in one game before. So I have the versatility, and I think in watching film they saw that, and knew that I have the ability to play any spot that they need me to. They just wanted me to come on and help the defense in any way I could.”Wright on what sold him on Tampa Bay
“It was just a mixture of everything. This is a situation where everybody wants to call it a building block or a building situation. I think we have a great young team here. A team that is hungry, a team full of guys ready to take the next step in getting to the playoffs and getting to the Super Bowl and getting to the upper echelon of this game. It has been talked about before but I think with the head coach now what is being talked about more so now is working hard and getting the work in. The grass-roots level of getting to that stage is simply working hard. I know you guys have heard 'hungry' a lot lately around here. That is no disrespect to anyone, I love Raheem [Morris] and have a relationship with him, but these young guys are hungry and these young guys are very talented and just looking to make it to the next level.”Wright on if he thinks he will feel comfortable in this style of defense
“I feel comfortable playing in any style of defense. Simply because with me playing corner, I am on the outside and exterior. I have to guard guys like (looks to Vincent Jackson). That within itself is a challenge, so it is bigger challenges than just trying to figure out am I going to be playing Cover 3 every down, or Cover 2, or are we playing a 3-4 or a 4-3? I am worrying about lining up and making sure Vincent Jackson doesn’t catch the ball.”Wright on how he feels about playing for new DBs coach Ron Cooper
“I think it is a great opportunity for everybody, especially going into my sixth year. Because you have the opportunity – for me personally – to learn from another coach. As you get along in this league you come to find out that the longer you the play the more you can get out of a lot of different situations. At least for me anyway. I have been in a lot of different situations that involved different coaching staff, coaches and different players around me. So I’m that player that is like a sponge. I want to soak up as much knowledge as possible and continue to get better. An I am thinking here in year six that could very well help me and have a great there for me everyday.”Wright on the experience he can bring to his new free agent teammates to transition to a new place to play
“It is simply about being yourself. I mean I am like a cool guy (laughs). You guys are laughing like there was irony in what in that. I am a pretty cool guy so it is pretty easy for me to blend in with Detroit. I don’t see myself having any problems with myself blending in with the guys here. I actually know a lot of guys who play here. As far as advice goes, it is just simply about being yourself. You get a group of guys together and some guys will love each other – there will be a lot of "bromances." They there will be a lot of acquaintances and then there will be a lot of, I don’t really hag out with that guy – not for a specific reason – it is just numbers. I tell guys to just be themselves.”Wright on if last season was his best
“Last year was a good year for me. I was able to stay healthy. I think I was able to put together both getting the ball, making nice tackles, just putting together a solid year. I think 2009 was a better year for me personally just because of my defense, my responsibilities and what was asked of me. In 2009 I had number one responsibilities all the time. I had minimal production caught against me. But last year was a real solid year for me and I’m just trying to build off of that. I know coaches watch a lot of film on last year to see how I responded to a new style of defense and I think I did pretty well last year.”Nicks on what it will be like to face the Saints twice a year now
“I have a lot of love for those guys, for that (entire) organization. They drafted me. I have a lot of respect for them but it is a game and if you not wearing the same color as I am I have to battle for my team and they have to battle for theirs. So expect nothing less than what I used to do to Tampa.”Nicks on how close he was to staying in New Orleans
“You know I only had a day to think about it because I got an offer on (March) 12, and free agency was the next day. I thought about it. That’s the one thing I really wanted was for them to try and they did.”Nicks on if the situation in New Orleans (bounty) had anything to do with him leaving
“Not at all.”Nicks on if anything else besides the money that offered factored into your decision to come to Tampa?
“The run game. No disrespect to (New Orleans) but they are a pass first, pass second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. They may slide a run in at the end. The Saints had great running backs. But here it is a little different. We have big guys, bruisers. Like was said, we will pound the ball, pound the ball, then over the top. I saw the coach at Rutgers and what he did for that program the work ethic he has that he will instill on everybody over here. A kind of a clean slate. I had my label in New Orleans now I kind of get to start fresh and now I have a little street "cred" like coach told me.”How much do you know about Davin Joseph?
“I met Davin last year in the Pro Bowl and he gets after you. I watched a lot of film of him because we play a lot of similar teams and he gets after it. And me and him together we will be just as good or even better than (Former teammate) Jahri (Evans). We both are physical and like to maul people and finishing blocks. That’s just how I live.”Was the physical style of offense stressed to you during the free agency process?
“I don’t know that is was stressed. I think they expect it. Because it is what they see on film. I think they know the deal. Not to sound cocky but it’s just what I do.”What does the financial commitment shown to you and the free agents mean to you?
“It is super humbling. I cant explain that enough. It is a huge blessing. We are not the “Big Three” like the Miami Heat (laughs). It is humbling, it is an honor, and it is a blessing. But with that title comes a lot more responsibility. You have to work twice as hard to let everybody know why you got what you got.”Dominik on spending a lot of money in free agency this year
“The reality is that we have stayed the course. I think when we talked about this football team and how it is built, part of the reason we’re here today is that we have built a nucleus of players and we’re in position for those young players to grow with some veterans from organizations and really help this team grow as an entire unit. As I spoke about these three men, it’s not every day that Vincent Jackson, Eric Wright and Carl Nicks are going to hit the free agent market. Certainly, it’s a unique year. That’s kind of the way we are projecting hopefully going forward. [After] 2010 a lot of people talked about as an organization why weren’t we more involved in free agency last year. With the way that the timing was with the CBA and the uncertainty with the lockout, this felt like the time to add the players to this football team that could grow with us, not only during the season, but in the offseason and become a team together and spend that time together with Coach Greg Schiano and his regime and his thoughts and to bring it all together. This is something we have talked about for a long time and I am happy that these men actually made it to free agency to give us to this opportunity.”Dominik on the timing of spending in this year’s free agent class
“We were recruiting Eric last year when he hit free agency. We talked to him about a deal, honestly. It didn’t work out. A lot of players took one-year deals last year and we realized a lot of players might become available. You had to certainly keep your eye on other teams and what might become … future forecasting like we always do. Who is going to become free agents next year on other clubs? We’ll look at that and who could become free and eligible. You look at future forecasting and who could be available in free agency. An important part last year was Michael Koenen and what he did for our team in terms of field position. These guys can do the same thing on offense and defense, respectively.”Schiano on what these guys bring to the Buccaneers
“I think they are the perfect fit. When you talk about the fact that we’re going to run the football, [Nicks] loves it. He loves running the football. He loves blocking people. We’re going to punish people and we’re going to run the ball. We’re going to throw the ball up over the top. [Jackson] said he’s going to be multi-dimensional, but you watch the tape, he catches a lot of balls up over the top and stretches the defense. As I said early on, sometimes when you do that you punt. Punting is okay. We have a great punter here in Tampa. We’ll punt the ball away and then we’ll send a great defense out there. How do you get the ball back, you have guys like Eric cover the best receiver and take him out of the game and get the ball back. Then we will continue the drive. That is our philosophy on football. When I look at these three guys it’s a perfect fit for what we want to do and adding to what we already have. My hat goes off to Mark and Dennis Hickey. I certainly didn’t know the league well enough that these three guys were the perfect fit for what we want to do. Mark and Dennis just kept giving tape and saying, ‘Watch this guy and watch that guy, Greg.’ It was great. Together we just kind of grinded through all of the tape and really came to a consensus that these three guys were the ones that would allow us to do what we wanted to do. It’s been a lot of fun. I can’t thank the Glazers enough for stepping up to the plate for bringing these guys home, because at the end of the day that’s what it takes. I’m really excited.”Schiano on his role in recruiting the free agents
“It’s such a limited time span because 4:00 p.m. rolls around and it’s like, ‘Wham!’ everything hits. We had a great dinner with Carl and I and a bunch of other people. Meeting [Jackson and Wright] early this morning and their wives walking off the plane a little bit wobbly, it was great. Some of these guys mentioned the word ‘family’ and that’s what attracted me to this organization. It was the Glazer family and how important family was to them. Then when I visited with these three guys and how important family is to them – that to me, is something special. We have great people in the organization that care about each other. Finances are a part of it. It’s professional sports. But once the finances are done, you have human beings. Are they going to be able to relate to each other and come together? I feel like these three guys want to do that.”Dominik on the qualities of Jackson, Wright and Nicks
“Just in talking to these guys a little bit over the last 24 hours now, basically, what their off-the field ambitions are. I spent some time with Carl and finding out what Autism means to him and how he can get involved in our community. Little things like that is a big deal to us. What else can you be in this town? What else can you be to be great? That’s a big part of what they are off the field. That’s what we wanted to look for in addition to what they bring on the tape. At the end of the day, it’s the tape that matters for us. And you want to make sure the character of the man fit what he brings to the football team.”Dominik on the free agency whirlwind of March 13.
“It’s been great, and Coach Schiano talked about us spending time together, and Shelton Quarles and the pro personnel department and Dennis Hickey as the director of player personnel, we have spent a lot of time. It goes a lot to the Glazer family too, though, in terms of building the plan that we put in place of who could be available, what the contracts could possibly look like and how does it all work together? There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes and you hope … but you don’t know. You hear that Carl Nicks tweets that he got an offer from the Saints and you don’t know if he’s going to hit free agency. That’s a big part of it. All you can do is be prepared and we spent a ton of time being prepared for the possibility that we could get all three. When it started to come across that we had a chance to get Vincent Jackson in line then agree to terms and then signed. And then we had a chance to get my guy, Eric, in line and then signed. Last night, spending time with Carl Nicks and his agent and getting the contract done. It’s a lot of work behind the scenes. Mike Greenberg has been helping with the contracts getting it all done. It’s a team effort. That’s how this whole thing works. We’re all a team and we are all in this together to be a part of Tampa Bay and bring a championship back here. It’s been 10 years too long.”Schiano on these new Bucs bringing leadership
“I think it is. I think on a football team one of the things we came in here early on saying was that we are going to draft and develop. We want to do that, but then you say, ‘Hey, there are these three free agents.’ This is a unique time. A perfect storm. A perfect situation in that a whole coaching staff is new. These guys are new, but so are the veterans that are here in terms of me and our coaching staff. So everyone is getting a fresh start and we will develop our leadership within the organization as we go. We will continue to draft and develop and down the road we don’t want to bring too many people into this organization because we are going to have a great chemistry. We are going to have a great culture and we are going to continue to build that culture. These guys are going to have a big part in building that culture that we have talked about from the day that we got here. I think that is going to be the formula, no doubt, moving forward. It really timed out well, and like Mark said, with a lot of people’s help and a lot of things coming together I think it’s going to be big for our organization.”Dominik on the nervousness of free agency
“There are definitely times of nervousness. It’s been a good and a long 20 hours, but it’s been a lot longer than that. A lot of hours have been spent. Even at the combine when we are watching guys working out on the field, if there is a lull in the action, Coach Schiano, myself, Dennis and Butch Davis are watching tape on pro prospects. I remember sitting there watching these guys. Any free moment that we had we put tape in our system so we could digest it and kind of see how they fit into our system. The frenzy was intense and it was three big deals. It takes a lot of work and a lot of commitment from different people. Then you have to have players that want to be part of something that is important. You can say one thing, but once they decide they want to be a part of our organization – every one of them had the choice to be somewhere else today – and they chose Tampa.”Dominik on the Bucs’ recruiting methods
“We talked a little bit about the fundamental beliefs of our football team. One of the things that we sell here is the youth of our football team and the building blocks that are there. Our first draft with Josh Freeman and what he can be and what he has been. It’s a big part of it. I think everybody looks at an organization and if you have a quarterback you can win. Winning is what drives everything in this league and I think they felt like we have a chance to win and be successful. I think that is the big thing we talked to them about individually. Then we talked to their agents and trying to negotiate the deals and figure it out. The agents understood where we were coming from, and again, the perfect timing of bringing them to this football team.”Dominik on what is left to do in free agency
“For our organization, it’s about these three gentlemen here today. But I will tell you that we are very excited about what we’ve done in free agency and the guys that we’ve added. I will say that as an organization, our eye is towards the NFL Draft now. We are very focused on getting our coaches and everybody up to speed, and on April 2, getting our players in here for our offseason program and starting to finally getting everyone together on this football team. Our eye is towards the NFL Draft Wand we’re excited about that fifth overall pick could be or can be, as well as the other [five] selections we currently have. That’s where our focus will be going forward. We are looking forward to adding more pieces to this football team to help us win games.”– Scott Reynolds contributed to this report
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