Coming off what he thought was his best season, safety T.J. Ward thought for sure he would be a Denver Bronco again in the 2017.
He’ll be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer instead and for one simple reason: The Broncos have what the Buccaneers don’t – or didn’t: depth at safety.
The Broncos drafted two safeties, Justin Simmons in the third round and Will Parks in the sixth, in 2016.
Their time has come the Broncos believe. Simmons time has, at least, and Ward gets that. What he doesn’t get is why the Broncos waited so long to let him know.
That’s the thing that apparently still has Ward scratching his head and it seems to be the thing that’s left a chip on his shoulder as he prepares to embark om the next chapter in his career.
Asked on Monday during his introductory press conference with the Bucs how he felt about the way his dismissal was handled, Ward came hard, just as he does on the field.
“It’s unfortunate the way they handled that situation,’’ Ward said. “But it is what it is. And um, they got to live with it. I have to live with it We’ll see what happens. I’m going to make sure I land on my feet. That’s just me. Whatever happens to them happens to them. That’s on them.
“I mean, you could have let me know what was going on. You had a full off season. I know it’s a business, but when you have good employees, you’re supposed to treat your employees a certain way. I think they just handled it completely unprofessional. That’s just my opinion.’’
Now, you seldom expect a player who suddenly has the rug pulled out from under him to praise the team for pulling that rug, but that’s a strong commentary about one of the team’s in the league that is believed to be among the most professional.
The Broncos did put a farewell gesture for Ward on social media Saturday:
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) September 2, 2017
As for his decision to come to Tampa when he had the opportunity to go to a few other places, Ward said the health of the organization and the team it’s about to field factored in the most.
“Tampa had the best locker room, with the players they have,’’ he said. “It just seemed to me like they had a good mix of vets and young players and guys hungry to win.
“And of course, (quarterback) Jameis (Winston) and his leadership and his ability out here on the field (after) playing against him las year, they just had the most to offer, the organization, what they’ve done in the past and what they continue to do.’’
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) September 4, 2017
The Broncos, not surprisingly, took the high road, coach Vance Joseph deciding not to escalate the situation any further after being informed of Ward’s comments.
— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) September 4, 2017