It was an easy choice, for the Packers and for Jeff Saturday.
“It was the best fit for me and my family. The Packers are a phenomenal football team. Their offensive line is in really good shape. I felt I could help with my knowledge of the game. The Packers were the first visit I scheduled. I knew when I left it would be tough to change my mind,” Saturday told packers.com of his decision to sign a two-year contract with the team following his visit to Green Bay last week.
“They were definitely the most aggressive team. I felt they wanted me and needed me.”
Saturday had played 13 years in Indianapolis, where Saturday had snapped the football to Peyton Manning in every year of Manning’s career but his rookie season. That dynamic changed last season when Manning sat out the year with a neck injury, and any chance of a reunion between the two was dashed when Saturday signed with the Packers.
Manning signed early last week with the Broncos. It was immediately thought Saturday would make his way to Denver, too.
“It was the want of the Packers,” Saturday’s agent, Ralph Cindrich, said. “As soon as they lost (Scott) Wells, they went for him. Jeff said (the Broncos) didn’t really need me. It was always that want to feel special and that was the Packers.”
Saturday will replace Wells, a veteran center who signed with the Rams in free agency. At 36, Saturday is five years Wells’ senior, but Saturday believes he still has some game left in his arms and legs.
“I considered all of my options. I looked at everything. I want to keep playing football. Once I made up my mind to do that, it was a matter of where,” Saturday said.
One of his options was to retire and accept a position in the Colts’ front office. After wearing a horseshoe on the side of his helmet for 13 seasons, Saturday had become a symbol of the team’s run of success during the Manning era.
“It’s going to be different for me. Thirteen years with the same team. That doesn’t happen very often. I’m looking forward to putting the G on,” Saturday said.
“We’ll look at it and see how it goes. As long as they want me and I want to keep playing, I’ll keep going. They know what I’ve done and what I’ve accomplished. It’s a perfect fit. Come in and play as well as I can and help teach the young guys things I may know. They were looking for another veteran to come in.”
It’s also not often that a center transitions from one great quarterback to another. Saturday snapped the ball to Manning in four MVP seasons. Next fall, Saturday will be snapping the ball to the reigning NFL MVP, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“Their offense is as good as it gets in the NFL. You look at the points they scored last year. Those guys know how to play offense. The tempo they push is good to play. They don’t need a whole lot to keep doing what they’re doing. I don’t know Aaron in the same way, but I know he’s an ultimate competitor,” Saturday said.
Packers sign C Saturday (press release)
Jeff Saturday player card