Jamel Dean was re-introduced as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday and explained his decision to re-sign with the team rather than leave in free agency.
It was the shock that jolted Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans back to life ahead of an offseason that seemed grim at the outset.
Jamel Dean decided to forgo testing the open market and re-signed with the Bucs, the first victory of an offseason the team is quietly winning. It’s hard to overstate what a surprise move this was, as everything suggested Dean would be gone and the Bucs would enter a period of uncertainty that doubled as a gnarly hangover from the Tom Brady Years.
That uncertainty still exists, but there’s a lot more to feel good about than initially expected.
Dean is back on a four-year, $52 million deal that averages less than what Carlton Davis was paid last season alone. It’s an insanely team-friendly deal and highlights just how much Dean wanted to come back even if everyone was bracing for his exit.
The Bucs re-introduced Dean on Thursday, as he spoke for the first time since officially signing his new deal to return.
In short, Dean’s explanation for why he wanted to return is — as Robin Williams once said — the good stuff.
“I honestly didn’t want to leave, man. I was born and raised in Florida. [I’m] close to home. I’m comfortable,” Dean said while beaming an ear-to-ear smile. “Why would I leave?”
Beyond that, Dean noted that Todd Bowles was a major reason he returned.
“I only want to be coached by Bowles,” Dean said. “He’s taught me everything I know.”
Jamel Dean explaining why he re-signed with Bucs speaks volumes
Tuck that quote away and save it for later, because it’s notable and likely shared by almost everyone in the locker room. There was a fair amount of frustration about how Bowles first season as the head coach went, but he’s beloved by his players to the extent that they’d pass up more money to go somewhere else and take a discount to come back.
Dean was a key cog in Bowles defense, and that note about him being a reason for the decision to return should put to bed any lingering questions about rumored drama over Dean’s usage.
Let’s also appreciate how Dean further buried the idea that Tampa Bay wouldn’t be a place players would want to go if Tom Brady wasn’t there. One of the most tragic parts of how last season went was the feeling that the Bucs had fumbled the bag in terms of setting the franchise up for sustained success.
Rather than one bad season poisoning the well, Dean’s return and his statements about why prove that there’s still something special in Tampa Bay and last year was more of a bummer than a true setback.
Somehow, Dean’s new deal is already paying off and the ink on it is barely dry.