The faith Seahawks showed in moving him to defensive end was a big deal to Bryant — even though he first thought they were trying to cut him.
“I’d be lying to say Im not thinking about (free agency),” Bryant said as players cleaned out lockers Monday at the VMAC training facility in preparation for heading home for the off-season. “I know this football team is heading in the right direction and I would love to continue to be a part of what I feel like is going to be a championship team in the future.
Im not (interested in the free agent market). The reason I say that is because I know what we have here. The people here are great, from the equipment managers to the trainers to the people that work in the cafeteria to the media — its a great culture around here that you really have an appreciation for the people here and what they do.
“Just talking to other (NFL players), its not always greener on the other side. The Seahawks organization is first class in everything they do. So I have a desire to be here.
Bryant’s agent probably will cringe at those quotes, and he may have a more even-handed view of the NFL world. But Bryant’s view is colored by the fact that the Seahawks coaches believed Bryant could be, at 340 pounds, a defensive end when he didn’t believe he could.
“At first, I thought they were trying to cut me when they talked about moving me to defensive end,” he said. “So for them to give me the opportunity, and to think that much of me when I really didnt think that much of myself in terms of playing defensive end, speaks volumes. They gave me the opportunity to really flourish at the five-technique position and I feel like Im one of the best in the game there.
The big fella, 28 in April, was in on 32 tackles and a sack, and also had two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, of the team’s biggest highlights in a 7-9 season that ended Sunday with a 23-20 overtime loss at Arizona. Beyond the numbers, Bryant was an aggressive run stopper that frequently overwhelmed the tackles and tight ends matched against him.
“I feel like I played at a high level, to the best of my ability and I know there are still a lot of things that I can look forward to in growing game. I grew as a player by just being more mentally tough, understanding what it is to be a leader and more just giving of myself.
“What I mean by that is there were three games where I didnt have a tackle. But when you watch the tackle, I was allowing everybody else to make the tackle. I feel like by me doing my job and not simply trying to make a play, it enabled the defense to make a lot of plays.”
The Seahawks’ other big free agent, running back Marshawn Lynch, was also hopeful of a return, but sounded more cautious.
Saying he’d “like to be back,” Lynch, who rushed for 1,204 yards, was open to avoiding the free agent market: “Hopefully I don’t have to. Hopefully I can get taken care of where I’m at.”