Jevon Kearse turned back the clock on Thursday.
In his press conference announcing his return to the Tennessee Titans, Kearse, now 31, displayed the youthful exuberance that was present during the early days of his initial five-year run with the club, calling the organization "home."
“It was like I was lost for a minute. I was away from home,” Kearse said of his disappointing four-year run with the Philadelphia Eagles that ended last week. “This is my home. So it was like it was a vacation or something. My stay in Philly was different.”
Kearse agreed to a two-year deal worth that, according to a report, is worth around $6 million that includes a $1.3 million signing bonus.
The Minnesota Vikings were in pursuit of Kearse as well, but he cancelled a visit there in order to broker a deal with Tennessee, one that he consistently reminded agent Drew Rosenhaus that he wanted to do.
“I had to keep reminding him that I like the situation,” Kearse said. “Drew’s job is to be an agent. And as an agent, he’s trying to get his player as much money as he can or whatever. I had to do a good job of reminding him that this is a good situation right here. I’d hate to pass this up. … It got very close [with Minnesota]. They still wanted me to get on the plane and go there today, but why, when I’m at home here. I feel at home right here.”
Titans coach Jeff Fisher was happy to have Kearse back as well, but said the return of “The Freak” is more than just a reunion for the sake of nostalgia. Kearse will be counted upon to help offset the losses of Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy in free agency earlier this week.
“Obviously in the last few days, we’ve lost two quality players and we felt like all along that we’d have an opportunity to fill that hole with Jevon,” Fisher said. “Not only is this an opportunity to finish where he started, but he also has a lot left and this is not just a nostalgic thing to bring back the old days. He’s here to fill a spot and help us win football game and knock the passer down.”
Kearse did plenty of that as a Titan, recording 47.5 sacks from 1999-2003, including being named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1999 and three Pro Bowls with Tennessee.
After leaving Nashville for Philadelphia, Kearse disappointed with the Eagles, recording just 22 sacks in four years there.
He had a knee injury in 2006 that limited him to just two games and last year was benched in favor of Juqua Thomas, his former Titans backup. Kearse was released by the Eagles on Feb. 28.
“I feel really good physically. I’m not going to lie,” Kearse said. “Like last year, I rushed myself getting back out on the field. It’s just part of my nature. I feel like I’m need to be on the field and practicing if I’m going to be part of the team.
“I feel like I want to be on the field helping the team win. I didn’t listen to my knee. It was telling me to back off, and I ignored it. I was pushing through everything. Everything is great, and it’s getting better by the day.”
Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who was critical of the organization when it let LaBoy and Odom walk away, was one of the first people Kearse called when he agreed to terms to return.
“I’m happy that we brought Jevon back,” Haynesworth said. “When you can go out and bring in a player like Jevon Kearse, it’s a good sign. What I said the other day was that I don’t want us to go backwards. I want us to build on what we’re doing and have a shot at going to the Super Bowl. Bringing in a player like Jevon is a good start.”
Kearse said he sensed that the Titans are on the right track when he spoke to Keith Bulluck on Wednesday.
“Actually, I see the organization as better and improving, but it’s different faces as far as my teammates and the chemistry and stuff we have together,” Kearse said. “I was talking to Keith yesterday, and he was saying they have a good chemistry around here. Everyone gets a long and has the same thing in mind. They’re thinking about winning the Super Bowl.”