Brandon Myers knew he’d feel right at home in Tampa Bay, even if he hadn’t taken a visit or met with his position coach. It’s why the former Giants and Raiders tight end wasted no time signing with the Buccaneers as soon as free agency began Tuesday afternoon.
Within minutes, he packed a bag and hopped on a plane, flying across country from California to Florida. He said he still has no idea what’s in his suitcase, but he’s eager to get started.
“With the people I talked to, the people that know a lot about the situation, I’ve heard all great things about the organization, about the fans,” Myers said in an exclusive interview with Sports Talk Florida.
“I just feel like this organization is going in the right direction. I just want to come in and help out in any way I can. I’m exciting to get started, to meet all the coaches and to get going.”
Except there’s one face he already knows, and it’s a big reason why he chose to come here — head coach Lovie Smith, whom he met with in Chicago when he took a visit before the NFL Draft in 2009.
“I got to know Coach Smith. We hit it off. Things didn’t work out there, but I just felt comfortable with the way that conversation went and the direction that he’s going [in] here,” Myers recalled.
But it was Oakland and not the Chicago who ended up selecting him in the sixth round with the 202nd overall pick.
“It’s strange how things happen, but I’m excited to get started.”
Smith won’t be the only familiar face in Tampa. He’ll reunite with former Iowa teammate, defensive end Adrian Clayborn.
“It’s funny. I was thinking about that today. When he was a little freshman, and he stayed at my house during the summer. We got along good and we’ve continued our friendship from then until now.”
In a lot of ways, relationships have shaped Myers’ growth as a player. In Oakland, he backed up Pro Bowl tight end Zach Miller, who’s now with the Seahawks.
“He’s a really good blocker and he can catch the ball well. I’ve always tried to be like him and kind of take some of his game and put it into mine.”
While pass-catching, vertical tight ends have been en vogue in recent years, it was Miller’s well-roundedness that Myers has tried to emulate.
“I’ve always prided myself in being a hard worker, a guy that knows what he has to do and when his number’s called, make the play.”
It’s all about being on the field for every snap and every play. He showed that last year with the Giants, catching 47 passes for 522 receiving yards and four touchdowns. And the year before, he had 79 catches for 806 receiving yards and four touchdowns for the Raiders.
So whether it’s blocking for Andre Brown so he can rush for 115 yards on the ground, or catching 14 passes for 130 receiving yards and setting a Raiders franchise record in the process — he’ll do it.
“If it’s a short-yardage situation or it’s a third down and you need a first down, it’s just kind of always the way I’ve tried to mold myself, to stay on the field and to try to help the team in any place.”
Even if it means being flexible with travel.