Statement from President and CEO Russ Brandon:
First and foremost thanks for the outstanding coverage throughout the weekend but most importantly, I wanted to, on behalf of the organization and Mr. Wilson, pass along our sincere, heartfelt condolences for the passing of Larry Felser. Obviously Larry’s an icon in the business. He’s someone that is a huge part of the history of this franchise and we are all deeply saddened on his passing. I can’t say enough on behalf of this organization especially with Mr. Wilson and their relationship, how important he was to us and to this community.
I wanted to start with that and secondly I just want to thank Buddy, the scouts, the tireless efforts that have gone into the preparation. As you know, everyone who’s been covering this for a long time, this is a year-long process, but when you go in prepared with a plan and have belief you feel very good about where you sit at the conclusion of today and as you all know today is not over. The fun part starts now. A little Wall Street will start at the conclusion of the draft with the undrafted process, with the college free agents that have not been drafted. We’re excited where we are today and look forward to getting to work now that this is behind us. But I just wanted again to thank Buddy, the collaboration with Coach Marrone, the coaching staff. This is as fluid of a process as I’ve seen with my time here with Coach Marrone and Buddy, and our people. So I just wanted to bring that up to you guys.
Q: How competitive do you expect the undrafted free agent process to be?
RB: It will be competitive. It always is. You look back at it historically some of the successes we’ve had with undrafted free agents and it comes down to recruiting, it comes down to situations within your roster structure and opportunity. We’ll be very competitive. It’s a big part if you look at the statistics over the years and you look at just even last year the percentages of the amount of undrafted free agents that make rosters, that make practice squads. It’s significant. We’re getting prepared. As soon as that last pick, as soon as that last tag is pulled we’ll be ready to go.
Q: What is your position on
RB: I’m certain that Buddy’s addressed that. Organizationally of course we’d love to have him back. We utilized the asset that was available to us with the franchise tag as you all know. It’s a priority for the organization and we hope to continue to work through the process with him and more importantly his agent, Eugene Parker, and we’ll keep conversations in a fluid process.
Q: Since the first of the year has your role in football decisions increased at all?
RB: No. My role is to provide leadership to this organization but make no mistake, and I know that it gets brought up every once in a while, Buddy Nix pulls the tag, as I like to say when it comes to the draft. He has the entire time that I’ve been here and worked with him. That’s the way I was brought up in this business. You let the football men and Buddy, the general manager, make those decisions and you provide every support element as you can as an organization to Buddy, the scouts, the coaches, to make and form decisions. We had a very thorough process this year as you know. We had a lot of private workouts and tried to have as much information available as could be, as we could provide to make good informed decisions. That’s what my role is, to provide as many assets as an organization to our general manager and our people to make good decisions.
Q: A lot of fans are asking about the analytics department?
RB: I think when I said that I should’ve put a pillow under it from the standpoint that it’s a process for us that we’re going to review moving forward. A lot of it has to do with as I mention, it’s another layer to any process when it comes to football. But it’d be very focused on salary cap management and everything we do on that front. It will never take away from the scouting process that we have in place now. It would be additional information that will provide. As we move forward as an organization it’s a priority for me but to be quite honest the main priority has been Coach Marrone in here, his staff and ramping up for the last few days in free agency.
Q: Is there an analytics department?
RB: No, not at this point. It’s also something that we’ve embarked on over the last couple of years and we have people that are focused on it but we don’t have a complete department per say. Obviously Jim Overdorf oversees the salary cap management decisions within the organization.
Q: In the past four months how has Doug Whaley’s role grown and evolved?
RB: It’s been consistent with years past, really the past couple of years. Doug continues to mature within his role. Buddy keeps providing him opportunity within the department. There’s lot of speculation for whatever reason related to that. Buddy Nix is our general manager and will be for a long time. As I mentioned before, Doug is a vital part to the process but when it comes to football decisions in this organization, one person and one person only makes decisions and that’s Buddy Nix.
Q: Does it feel good to get the quarterback question behind you?
RB: Yeah. I’m excited about it. I know our fans are as well. We’ve heard a lot about it for many, many years. Looking forward to having EJ (Manuel) in the mix coming in to compete and watching his growth and maturity in the organization is exciting. It’s exciting for all of us. I’m excited about the entire process. The entire draft and what still lies ahead in the next few hours when it comes to college free agency. We still have a lot of work to get done, but I’m very pleased with what’s been done to date.
Q: How concerned are you with the Jairus Byrd situation?
RB: Not concerned. Obviously it’s an opportunity, as I mentioned earlier, it’s an asset that we have in our holster. He has the opportunity to wait until he’s comfortable. We’ll continue that dialogue. You always want to always have all your guys here, but we understand the situation and we’ll just keep working through it.
Q: There’s been reports that there’s been no talks at all with Byrd?
RB: I don’t know where those reports come from. That’s not accurate.