He knew he wasn't going to get a call at the start of the free agent period. Alex Carrington's NFL career has largely gone under the radar despite being a dependable wave player on the defensive line. That's why it wasn't surprising that the team that knew him best brought him back into the fold after the 2015 NFL draft came and went.
"I knew there would be a phone call after the draft, after teams filled up rosters," said Carrington. "I thought the Bills were a distinct possibility because of the defense and a lot of similar type players here. They were at the top of my list. I was like, 'I'm going back to Buffalo.'"
For Carrington that's a good thing for a number of reasons. The defense he last played in during the 2013 season is largely the same to the one he now joins under Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman.
"There's a lot of familiarity with the defense I left (in Buffalo)," said Carrington. "So that makes it an easy transition."
And though Carrington has to prove himself to Buffalo's new coaching staff, the men in the locker room know the kind of player he is.
"Yeah, it was easy walking back in the door," Carrington told Buffalobills.com. "A lot of horse play when I got back. I'm glad to be back. I missed the guys, I did."
His second straight foray into free agency was also easier. After poor timing with his torn quadriceps tendon in 2013, which cost him the last 13 games of the season, cashing in on a big second contract just wasn't in the cards. He signed a one-year deal with St. Louis where getting on the field proved every bit as difficult as it was in Buffalo with four former first-round picks on the Rams' starting defensive line.
"They were pretty stacked," said Carrington, who appeared in eight games for St. Louis in 2014. "I had a minor injury and they put me down for a week or two early in the season, but I was good after that. They're very deep. They're a good group."
Despite his lack of playing time, heading into this offseason the sixth-year defensive lineman wasn't worried about finding work.
"I definitely wasn't as stressed as I was the first time I was a free agent, coming off an injury," he said. "I was just training since the beginning of February. So that was my whole offseason."
Carrington re-joins a defensive line contingent that is every bit as stacked as the one he left in St. Louis. There's also a healthy group of second line players that he'll be battling with for the spots behind the three Pro Bowl lineman and Jerry Hughes. But Carrington said there's a healthy collective mindset in the defensive line meeting room.
"There's a big level of pride throughout the whole room on technique and being the best," he said. "No matter where you fall on the depth chart anytime you're out on the field you want to show you're out there for a reason."
All too familiar with the playoff drought the Bills have endured having lived four years of it personally, reaching the postseason tops Carrington's list of expectations for 2015.
"I just want to win," said Carrington. "I have some other personal goals, but I'll keep those to myself. The big goal is the postseason. I want to win. The postseason is big, man. We've got a good group. We've just got to make it happen now."