For many players free agency is a time to score the biggest possible contract and tour the NFL in search of the team that best lays down the red carpet to go along with the money. For new Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin though, while money was a consideration the most important thing was finding a place where he would fit in on the football field and his entire family could be comfortable off of it.
"Throughout the overall process of free agency and traveling and visiting different teams, [the Patriots] just had the best fit," Colvin said in his first meeting with the New England media Tuesday morning at Gillette Stadium. "Obviously, any player wants to be compensated well and that was also part of the package. You look at what they have done in the last three or four years and Coach Belichick and his staff and the players here, they have accomplished what any football player would want in winning the Super Bowl. It seems like they have a thirst of wanting to get back there and obviously I've never won one before. I just want to try to come in and repeat that."
Colvin said that while the Patriots put forth a similar type of visit as other teams he visited in free agency, in the end the dedication to football shown by Head Coach Bill Belichick and Vice President of Player Personnel Scott Pioli was one of the key factors in his decision.
"On all my visits I went out to dinner and they wined and dined," Colvin said. "The thing about Coach Belichick and Scott Pioli was that they're all about football and all about business and getting the job done – playing games and winning for Mr. Kraft, the owner of the team. That's what impressed me the most. I'm not the type of person that needs to be wined and dined."
And now that he is working in the offseason-conditioning program and working towards 2003 Colvin knows that the recruitment process of free agency is over and he is just a member of a team again. According to him, that is a place where he feels comfortable.
"'I'm just looking to get on the field and get an opportunity to play and try to display some of the things that I had been doing in Chicago for four years here in New England," Colvin said. "Free agency gives you an opportunity to see how other people look at you. Not just you, but how they treat people. I had been looked at in a certain way for four years and then you get outside of that arena and people start to talk to you a little bit different and start to treat you a little bit different. They start to value you a little bit more than, say, Team A would have. It was fun and it was a good experience for me. It does gas you up as far as your head, maybe making you think that you're a little better than you are. But, I just tried to stay humble and not take too much out of it and try not to put too much into it and keep a level head and make the right decisions."
What the 6-3, 245-pound Colvin was doing in Chicago, especially over the last two seasons, was putting up very impressive numbers. With back-to-back 10.5 sack seasons, the outside speed rusher put his name on the map across the league. As a former college defensive end Colvin has made the transition to outside linebacker in the NFL, while maintaining his excellent ability to get to the quarterback.
The 25-year-old says that transformation to a linebacker is still an ongoing process, with the multiple responsibilities of linebacker being the toughest adjustment.
"[At linebacker] you've got to know when to go forward and when to go backward," Colvin said. "Being a down lineman, you pretty much know that you're going straight ahead usually every time. Playing linebacker, you've got to be able to read a little bit better. Standing still, knowing when I need to back up or go forward. Just getting adjusted or getting used to covering slot receivers and doing things that linebackers have to do took me about a year and a half. When I sort of came into my own, I was in the third year of my career. The rest is history. The Bears and their coaching staff gave me a great opportunity to display my talents and my skills. They still gave me the opportunity to rush on third downs and nickels, but in order to get on the field I had to play a little linebacker for them."
Colvin will continue to have to play in multiple fronts in New England in Belichick's sometimes complex schemes. But that doesn't worry the former Purdue standout as he knows that in the NFL regardless of size, position or reputation, production is the bottom line.
"I think the most important thing is just to get the job done," The lean linebacker said when questioned about his seemingly undersized build. "If I came in and I was 3-3, but I got 20 sacks a year, it wouldn't really matter. I just try to do my best to get whatever my assignment is and like I said, help out as much as I can. I can only control me. I'm going to be Rosevelt Colvin. What I bring to the table is what I bring to the table. I'm not going to try to do anything out of the ordinary. I'm just going to go out there and play my game when the coaches give me the opportunity to be on the field. I just try to know what I'm doing and be comfortable with what I'm doing with the defense and play as hard as I can from there."
For now, all that talk is purely speculation. It will be months before Colvin takes the field with his new team and will take even longer for him to develop into his role on the team. Much like he did when he first signed in early March, Colvin reiterated on Tuesday that he is simply a part of the puzzle in New England. He knows he is coming to a team that has stars and leaders, but he also wants to play a part in bringing that team back to postseason action.
"From what they tell me, the foundation is set," Colvin said. "Obviously, they've won the Super Bowl and this is a tough division that they play in where in any given year, anybody can go to the playoffs. I just think they're looking for a couple of guys to help them move up the ladder to get back to where they were. Obviously, teamwork and commitment are the thing that they're looking for in a person and a player. I just want to play and have some fun and represent the people that know me and my family well."