Transcript: Jerry Hughes re-signs in Buffalo

GM Doug Whaley

DE Jerry Hughes

Monday, March 9, 2015

Opening Statement:

Doug Whaley: Thanks for coming out. It's an exciting day here for the Buffalo Bills and Jerry Hughes. I know there are a lot of questions out there, but today we're just going to celebrate Jerry being a Buffalo Bills. This goes along with what our core philosophy is; to get good players and re-sign them and keep them. It's a compliment to Jim Overdorf, Jerry's agent and the Pegula's for us coming to this conclusion and we're very excited. Without further ado, Jerry Hughes.

Q: How does this feel and how important was it to work out a deal for you to stay in Buffalo?

Jerry Hughes: It's an amazing feeling. It feels great. Huge thanks to Terry Pegula, Kim Pegula, Doug Whaley, Russ Brandon, my agent Tracy Lartigue making all this happen. I'm excited, but now it's back to work. Kind of like our main focus is to get an AFC East banner hanging up in this building, so that's the plan. Just get back to work and continue working to try to get better from before.

Q: It was no secret that other teams were interested in you. With that in mind, how tempting was it to take more money elsewhere?

The 6-2, 254-pound Texas Christian University product entered the NFL as a first-round draft selection (31st overall) of Indianapolis in 2010.

JH: We finished 9-7 and we have a lot of unfinished business. With that being said, I wanted to come back with these guys so we could take care of that and get that accomplished. We had a pretty good year last year, but as the year finished up we all sat in our room and we came to the conclusion that we can do better. When you're on a team where everyone kind of feels that way and when you have that camaraderie, everybody just wanting to win, the willingness to win. When you have that, you want to be a part of that. Also, with Rex Ryan taking over the team, you know what he is bringing to the organization. You know he knows how to get to the playoffs, so you want to be a part of something special. You can kind of lean on that.

Q: Can you talk about your conversations with Rex and about what your role will be specifically in his scheme?

JH: Once I found out Rex was taking over the head coaching job, just getting all the text messages from other players saying how great of a coach he is, everyone is going to love him. So you kind of get that feeling from people that aren't even on the team have respect for him. We know what he is going to bring defense aside, so you know you definitely want to be a part of something great like that.

Q: What role did your teammates on the defensive line have in you staying in Buffalo?

JH: It was huge just the camaraderie that we've built over these past two years. Just being around those guys and having that relationship that we've had in our room. You really don't want to miss out on that. Kind of like what I said earlier, we were so close. Went 9-7 and felt like there is still so much for us to accomplish and we want to keep moving forward.

Q: Did the fact that the Bills trading for you from the Colts and it jumpstarting your career play a factor?

JH: It's huge. For Doug Whaley to kind of come about me in the way he did in that trade, showed that someone wanted me. When someone wants you, you want to come back. You want to put your best out there and give it your all. Want to go out and win a couple championships and make it memorable. When someone goes about a trade like that, I definitely want to give it back in full.

Q: What do you make about the moves that the Bills have already made this offseason?

JH: It's great. It feels like we're doing everything possible to do that. So when you have the front office making moves and putting guys in position to be successful to win more games, that speaks volumes for the team. When I saw the acquisitions being made, I was excited about that. I was excited to get back and just ready to get back to work.

Q: Did you tell your agent to make it work in Buffalo?

JH: More so, make it work in Buffalo. He knew how I felt about the organization and how I felt about the fans. How we still have so much to accomplish here and I'm someone who doesn't like to leave anything undone. I want to get the job done, so I think he understood that and he realized that so we got it done.

Q: Were there better offers out there?

JH: Who knows. I'm not really worried about that. I'm happy here and I'm looking forward to moving on and winning the AFC East championship. I think that's what we're going to get done.

Q: You were in a similar scheme a couple years back. Can you explain how you envision your role in this defense?

JH: It's tough to say right now because given the NFL rules; you're not really allowed to talk logistics with the team or with your coaches or things like that. So it's kind of tough to really talk about the playbook or anything given that rule. We have plenty of time, so with the month of April coming in here sooner than later, we'll get all that figured out.

Q: Well then based on your recollection of the defense you played in in 2013, what do you expect?

JH: No because from what I'm hearing from Rex, we're going to do a little bit of everything. When you hear that, that's exciting right there.

Q: Did you think there was a good chance that you wouldn't be coming back after last season?

JH: Not at all. I think the conversation I had with my agent, he was one of the first people to call me, I said let's make this work. I led with the whole we finished 9-7 and had the number two defense. We have a lot to accomplish and I don't want to leave this ship unmanaged. I think we can still do more, we can still get better as a team and continue to grow. We still have a lot to do and we don't want to take away from that. Those two years were really something to me, to be a part of the team and watch everyone grow. You want to stick around and be a part of that.

Q: How much different does it feel here from when you packed up and left? Just the regime change at coaching and how that feels.

JH: A whole new vibe, whole new vibe. Everyone is excited in the building. It is just for me, it is getting to know the new coaches. Getting with them and kind of just getting a better understanding of them so we can get that relationship rolling. That way once it comes time for training camp we are all ready to roll.

Q: How does it feel to come here from Indianapolis where things were not working out to then become a mainstay here in Buffalo?

JH: It was huge. The fans were great here. I think that was another key thing for me as far as coming back—the fan support that I have always been getting. All of the love and all of the respect. I think that was another part. Just the playing time aspect—that had a lot to do with it. Anytime someone gives you an opportunity to play in the NFL and the way that they gave it to me here, it was great. You don't want to leave that.

Q: How do you reflect back on your time in Indy now that you have long-term security?

JH: I never would have thought that in a million years but I just continued working. I think that was the one thing. I just stay focused and continued hitting the offseason as I was playing—just kept working. That is the whole thing when it comes down to it. Just not really giving up on myself just because other people might have.

Q: What does it feel like to go from being labeled a bust to now signing this contract?

JH: I have come a long way. Still have a lot more to do. I still have only started just one year in the NFL. I have a lot more room to grow. I am excited to work and just to get back at it. Continue to work and grow. Figure out a way that we can just continue to win football games.

Q: Do you ever allow yourself to contemplate all that?

JH: No, not really. I do not focus too much on the past. For me it is always moving forward. How you can get better the next day. I think that has always been my motto. To not focus on much but that.

Q: How much did liking the WNY area play into this?

JH: Absolutely with the fan support. It is just being in an area where the fans love the team and love being around the organization. You get that support and just being out here with that, you don't get that in a lot of places. The way that the fans come out for our home games and they give us tremendous energy—things like that. It is something where you really want to be a part of because that helps out and it makes the game so much better.

Q: Doug Whaley has said all along you were a high priority this offseason. Did you feel that?

JH: I felt it quickly. Just as quick as we got this deal done. I am excited. Once again, thanks Doug Whaley, Terry Pegula—him and his wife, Russ Brandon—those guys were able to kind of get that deal done quickly. I am excited to just start winning games.

Q: Doug Whaley--how important was it to just get this deal done?

Doug Whaley: It was very important. It was our number one wish list. We thought we need to keep the core together as long as possible. When you have a free agent come up that has been as productive as he has, and an integral part in our success as a defense, we just said 'Hey, let's go all in with Jerry.'

Q: This offseason you guys have been incredibly aggressive. Do you feel like this is a new day for this organization?

DW: I have always just looked at it like we are going to do deals to make us better. Make us get to our ultimate goal and that is competing for a championship. If that is a new vibe, then I guess you could say it but every decision we have tried to make since I have been here is to win games.

Q: Is the way this is structured with the cap hit a little bit less at the beginning to give you a little more flexibility?

DW: Yes.

Q: Any idea what your cap situation is like?

DW: We will have to take a look. I will get with JO (Jim Overdorf) right after this and we will see where we go from there.

Q: Is there more to come?

DW: Wait and see. (Laughs)

Q: How did you feel your chances were to get Jerry Hughes back early on?

DW: Pass rushers have always come at a premium. Just my conversations with Jim Overdorf, he kept me abreast all the way through the process. He is the one that had me feeling confident because he was so confident. Once we kind of got a feel for where he wanted to come in and wanted to be here, then it eased me a little bit. But in this business until he signs, you always have that little bit of doubt.

Q: Is your salary structure in any way out of whack on the defensive line looking forward?

DW: I have said this before—when you don't have a large chunk of your cap eaten up by a marquee quarterback you can spend it other ways. We are going to be heavily invested in the defensive line. That is one of the ways that we are going to have to play to win with the makeup of our squad. Play good defense, run the ball and have the quarterback protect the ball. That is how we are building this team.

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