A month and a half after NFL free agency opened, Chris Thompson finally signed with a new team. The former Redskins running back is now a Jaguar, capping a process that he felt was "slow at points."
During an appearance with the Sports Junkies on Tuesday, Thompson had a chance to explain how he reached his decision. It turns out the same problem that hindered much of his production with Washington — injury troubles — was an ever bigger deal this offseason because of the pandemic that's looming over everything.
"A lot of teams wanted to know if I'm healthy," Thompson said. "Given that we can't travel, teams can't see doctors, teams can't see us, there's question marks around me."
Jacksonville still reached out early to the 29-year-old, even with the uncertainty surrounding him. Jay Gruden's relationship with Thompson certainly had to be a driving force behind that interest. And in the end, Thompson's relationship with Gruden was a driving force behind his choice to land in the AFC South.
"It's weird because we're going into this thing where training camp is basically everybody's preparation for getting ready for the season," he said. "You have to weigh the options of what's smart to do... You go with people that you're comfortable with. I've been in that system for a long time."
According to Thompson, the Rams also appealed to him, considering Kevin O'Connell and Sean McVay head up that offense. But ultimately, he settled on joining his former coach instead of a pair of his old coordinators.
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So, COVID-19's influence clearly pushed Thompson to Florida in a few ways. Yet there's another crucial reason why he's so thrilled to be a Jag, and it has nothing to do with the virus.
Thompson grew up in Greenvile, Fla. and starred at Florida State. The chance to return home, especially after recently having a baby, made too much sense on top of all the factors he couldn't control.
"They now get to spend more time with my daughter," he said of his family.
Thompson hopes to get situated in June so he can relax a bit before camp begins. Don't expect him to pick up golf — he tried once and it was "terrible" — but he is trying to find a place with a pool.
Overall, it probably took Thompson longer than he would've liked to find his next NFL stop. Considering how familiar he is with everything there, though, there should be no such delays to his effectiveness when football resumes.
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