NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Da'Norris Searcy entered free agency with the hopes of returning to the south. His hometown of Decatur, Ga. is just a short four-hour drive away from his new football home in Nashville. That's why when Titans brass reached out, there was immediate mutual interest.
The phone call to Searcy's agent came late Saturday night, amidst the three-day window when teams were allowed to reach out to players' representation. The negotiations went back and forth, with Searcy growing confident he wouldn't be a free agent long.
His wife, Kennetra, and sixth-month old daughter, Kenna, joined Searcy at Saint Thomas Sports Park Wednesday to make the deal official. Searcy was all smiles as he signed his contract, becoming a member of the Titans. Kennetra poked fun at her husband, saying there were plenty of tears Tuesday when the two sides agreed to terms.
Searcy didn't deny the overwhelming emotions.
"Absolutely," he laughed, admitting to the alleged tears. "It was a tremendous feeling, man. Ever since I was four years old sitting on the couch with my dad, I knew I wanted to play in the National Football League … To start with the Bills and establish myself and now see my goals come full circle is overwhelming."
Tennessee's new safety played his first four NFL seasons in Buffalo after being taken by the Bills in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. The former North Carolina Tar Heel has 23 career starts under his belt (including 13 in 2014), with five interceptions, three forced fumbles and two defensive touchdowns.
New Titans safety Da'Norris Searcy signs his contract at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)
The ink is dry on Searcy's four year deal with the Titans, and he's ready to be a part of the team's turnaround in 2015.
"I wanted to come in be able to help out a team and see my value increase on a team," Searcy said. "I'm a type of guy that I want my hard work to be noticed. I feel and believe that working hard is what I do. Every day I'm the first one at the facility and the last one to leave. I don't want to be seen as a role player anymore."
Searcy was far from a role player in 2014, starting 13 games for the Bills, but he joins a Titans team in need of quality and depth in the secondary. Tennessee parted ways with Bernard Pollard earlier in the offseason, leaving Michael Griffin and Daimion Stafford as the only true safeties still under contract. Searcy fills both needs, being a proven talent that can play both safety positions.
The NFL is a small world as Searcy is already familiar with plenty of faces in the Titans organization.
Griffin and Searcy have already begun to talk shop, having gone out to lunch with a few Titans coaches Wednesday. He also reconnected with Titans defensive backs coach Louie Cioffi, who coached Searcy at his Senior Bowl while with the Bengals coaching staff. Dexter McCluster recruited Searcy on his official visit to Ole Miss. Zach Brown was Searcy's teammate for three seasons at North Carolina. Free agent safety George Wilson was with Searcy in Buffalo from 2011-12 as was Andy Levitre.
Titans Online looks at the career of new Titans safety Da'Norris Searcy, who began his first four NFL seasons with the Buffalo Bills. (AP Photos)
Searcy's phone has been a nonstop influx of calls and text messages congratulating him on the new contract. Everyone from old high school coaches to former teammates have reached out. Even Bills fans showed plenty of love to their former safety.
His phone went from fully charged to dead in a matter of hours with all the well-wishes.
"It was great," he said, still smiling like he was waiting for someone to pinch him. "Everybody kept telling me that all my hard work paid off. Bills fans were telling me it was hard to see me go, but that I deserved it and that they were so happy for me. It meant the world."
Now comes the transition of moving to Nashville. Searcy said he's anxious to put his Titans gear on and begin workouts with his new teammates.
The hard work will come. For now, it's time to celebrate.