Kendall Wright’s voice cracked a time or two as he spoke and he maybe even fought back tears.
But the 2012 first-round pick spoke Monday about the end of his Tennessee Titans career and moving on to get a fresh start somewhere else in the NFL.
“I’ve been here for a long time. I came here five years ago, and I gave the Titans everything I had for five years. I mean it didn’t work out,” Wright said. “I’ll be glad to see what I can do in free agency, make a team fall in love with me and go there do what I know I can do.”
Wright maybe had already seen how things would unfold, but when he was a healthy scratch for Sunday’s season-ending win over the Houston Texans, it reinforced the notion that his time as a Titan was up.
“I knew. Yesterday I saw the 2017 Tennessee Titans, and I’m not a part of the 2017 Tennessee Titans. That’s probably the plan. It is what it is. I mean I respect everybody in the building,” Wright said.
Wright said he didn’t leave bitter or angry about his situation, but knows that he won’t be a fit. It was something he felt as far back as training camp when the Titans decided to use him exclusively as a slot receiver after he had played on the outside and in the slot for most of his first four years.
“I don’t know. I guess I didn’t fit the system – the many systems that came through. I think they have something good, and I think they’ll win a lot of games,” Wright said. “For me, it’s time for me to grind. I feel like I’m free.
“I knew coming into the season what probably would happen in training camp with what was going on. I think I handled it the right way. I handled it the right way and went about my business as a pro.”
Wright, who had 94 receptions for 1,079 yards in 2013, posted a career-low 29 receptions this season for 416 yards and three touchdowns. Wright’s numbers have declined every season since 2013, and this season got off to a bad start when he missed all of preseason and the first three regular season games with a lingering hamstring injury. Also, he was a healthy scratch against Denver when he missed a team meeting on Saturday.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey was asked about Wright in his season-ending press conference and said, “Again, it’s not every player, the way we do things here. Again, we haven’t talked about Kendall – Jon (Robinson) and I. We haven’t even done player evaluations yet. There are going to be some players who are back and some who are not for some reason or another. But those are discussions that are coming.”
Mularkey said the Titans are looking for “consistency, on and off the field.”
Wright was asked if the Titans had issues with him because he was out for more than a month with the hamstring injury.
“I don’t know how you can disagree with an injury. I have no idea, but I had to do what was best for me,” Wright said. “It was the last year of my contract. I wasn’t playing any games unless I was healthy, and I missed three games, and the rest of them, whatever was called to do on offense, that’s what it is. But I’m completely healthy and ready to do what I’ve got to do.”
Wright said he enjoyed his time with the Titans, even though there were a lot of ups and downs. He reflected on some of the many teammates he played with during his five seasons in Tennessee.
“Just being around the guys. I’ve been around Kenny Britt, Chris Johnson, Nate Washington. I played with Jake (Locker),” he said. “I’ve played with a lot of people and seen a lot of faces some through here. I mean it was fun. All the years that I was here, you could tell that one of these teams would get over the hump.”
Wright said the time kind of caught up with him with the Titans. Even so, he said he tried to serve as a mentor to his fellow wide receivers.
“I never seen a day when I would be talking about leaving the Titans. I never really thought about that day,” he said. “It just snuck up on me really. This whole year I just stayed positive and (tried) to be a pro and help these young guys. They’ve got a lot of talent, and they’ll be really good in the future.
“I enjoyed all my years here. We had ups and downs. I played with a lot of quarterbacks. For my final years here to have a quarterback and run some of the things we run, it was fun, and I enjoyed it. I’ll miss it.”