After parting ways with the Carolina Panthers, veteran tight end Greg Olsen decided to keep his NFL career going for a 14th season. He signed a one-year, $7 million deal Feb. 18 with the Seattle Seahawks and has embraced a fresh start ahead of the 2020 campaign.
“Every meeting, you never know what’s going to happen — every team meeting, every walkthrough,” Olsen said Friday on NFL Network’s Inside Training Camp Live. “It’s a lot of energy at practice — the coaches, the staff, the players. They create a really positive and really energetic environment and it makes practice fun, it makes coming to work fun and then it makes training camp as fun as training camp can be … but it’s a cool atmosphere.
“It’s been really invigorating for me at this stage of my career to have something new, a new challenge, dive into a new playbook, dive into new coaching, new ways that they want us to operate. At this stage of my career, it was a nice challenge to test me a little bit, to adapt and to change and it’s been fun. It’s kind of been like a fresh start.”
According to a Feb. 14 report by ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter, Olsen was additionally drawing interest from the Buffalo Bills and Washington Football Team. Culture was a part of Olsen’s choice to sign with the Seahawks, led by head coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson.
“Just trying to spend as much time, communicate, make calls and it starts with the quarterback,” Olsen said. “Obviously, Russ, he runs the show. It’s his tempo. It’s his style. It’s his words. It’s his signals. So that falls on all of us.
“And as a new guy, there was a lot to learn. Not only in the fact of learning a new system and learning a new style, but kind of deprogramming some of the things that I had done for a long time and things that I took for granted might be done a little differently here and kind of flipping my brain a little bit.
“But spent some good time with Russ this summer, both virtually and in person, and every chance we get to do a walkthrough, every chance we get to just do a talk to just hear calls, hear formations, hear the movements, the routes, the concepts. Every day, it gets a little bit easier. Every day, you just get a little more comfortable. And that’s what this time of year is for.”
Olsen, 35, spent the past nine seasons with the Panthers. Through 126 games (123 starts), Olsen caught 524 passes for 6,463 yards (12.3 average) and 39 touchdowns. He recorded 52 receptions for 597 yards (11.5 average) and two touchdowns while starting 14 games in 2019.
In the NFC West, Olsen looks forward to a competitive division.
“I feel like my whole career I follow around, arguably, the best division in the league,” Olsen said. “For years, it was down in the south in the NFC. Now, out here in the west. I don’t know what it is, but six games a year that are going to be battles.
“And obviously, we saw what San Francisco did last year and the team they have coming back. And what’s going on in Arizona — they’ve got the young quarterback and they started picking up steam as the year went on. Of course, LA — they’ve been in the Super Bowl, just two years ago.
“So it’s a challenging division. It reminds me of what it was like two years ago in the NFC South — good quarterback play, good defenses, kind of complete teams. So you know six games a year are going to be a challenge and that’s part of what makes it fun.”
The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Olsen entered the NFL with the Chicago Bears as the No. 31 overall pick in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft. Olsen started 39 of the 62 games he played throughout his four-year tenure in Chicago from 2007-10, with 194 receptions for 1,981 yards (10.2 average) and 20 touchdowns.
Olsen starred from 2003-06 at Miami. He caught 87 passes for 1,215 yards (14.0 average) and six touchdowns through 33 games in three college seasons with the Hurricanes. A five-star prospect, recruitment was heralded as the 247Sports Composite’s No. 10 overall played and No. 2 tight end out of Wayne (N.J.) Hills for the 2003 class.