When free agency began, Joe Mays admits he had doubts he would end up back in Denver.
“I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, just not knowing what to expect, not knowing what direction the team wanted to go in,” he said Thursday.
So the linebacker began visiting other teams. Fresh off a trip to New Orleans, he hopped on a plane headed to Washington before connecting to Indianapolis.
Mays, who typically turns off his phone as soon as he gets on a plane — “I usually do that and follow directions,” he smiled — kept it on this time.
And it rang.
“My agent…called me and just asked me how I was doing, just regular conversation,” Mays recalled. “I’m like, ‘Well, I’m on a flight — the flight that you booked for me.’”
“I was like, ‘What’s up?’ He just said, ‘Well, get off the flight, we just agreed to a deal.’”
The Broncos had agreed to terms to re-sign the veteran linebacker, who played all 16 games (12 starts) for the team in 2011 and ranked third on the club with 74 tackles.
So Mays spent the next few minutes figuring out what to do next before grabbing his bags and getting off the plane prior to its departure.
“At the end of the day it all worked out, because I was able to get off and we had a guy on standby that was able to get on,” Mays laughed. “I was excited. I knew he was excited to get to his destination, as well, but I was excited to hear that I’m coming back here. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to be.”
The standby passenger couldn’t have asked for a better place to be either, as he took over Mays’ first-class seat.
But all joking aside, Mays said he was thrilled to be able to rejoin the Broncos.
“They made me the offer, and I wanted to be here, my family wanted to be here — It was easy for me to say yes,” he said. “Just the fact that they offered me, they believe in me, they want me to come in and do better than I did last year, and you know what, I’m just going to make sure I keep my end of the bargain and do whatever it takes.”