Jason Avant: ‘The Chiefs Were Always My No. 1 Choice’

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Jason Avant isn’t Donnie Avery’s replacement. He’s a slot receiver.

The veteran isn’t going to drop jaws and spark roars from the crowd with explosive plays.

However, given the Kansas City Chiefs’ circumstances, he makes for a perfect match.

The first seven seasons of Avant’s career were spent under the supervision of Andy Reid. This isn’t a case like that of A.J. Jenkins, where the newcomer arrives as a square-one sponge. In large part, Avant already knows the system.

Are there new wrinkles? Without a doubt. Will he need to gel with Alex Smith? Definitely.

But throughout his NFL career, Avant has carved a reputation for crisp route running and awe-inspiring catches. He’s a trustworthy addition to a receiving corps that, outside of Dwayne Bowe, can’t be relied upon.

On a recent conference call, the wideout spoke to his familiarity with the Chiefs playbook, claiming:

"Yeah, there are some similarities there, but there’s a lot of new things. He has different personnel here so he uses different personnel in different ways so you have to change play calling around. I’m learning those things. I would say about 65 percent to 70 percent I know or I’m refreshing, the other part I have to learn."

Obviously, building a rapport with Smith will be one of Avant’s top priorities. Considering they’re both students of the game who take pride in learning defensive nuances, the two should start clicking sooner rather than later.

Smith’s newest target spoke on his thoughts about Kansas City’s quarterback, adding:

"Alex is a guy that I’ve admired from afar, especially here with the Chiefs under Coach Reid. Especially the season that he had last year and even when he was in San Francisco. Just talking with him he’s a very heady guy that’s able to take in a lot of information and make the correct reads. That’s what you want as a receiver, a guy that’s going to put your team in a position to win."

Whenever Reid’s name was mentioned, Avant had no shortage of compliments, noting that the coach’s “infectious” personality tends to rub off on those surrounding him, as evidenced by how many staffers were itching to follow him to Kansas City.

The ninth-year pro claimed that when it comes to X’s and O’s, Reid plays to his players’ strengths, regardless of if they’re a big-bodied wideout like Bowe or fleet-flooted speedster like DeSean Jackson.

Moreover, he said that little things, such as receiving occasional (non-football-related) texts, makes players appreciate the Chiefs head coach that much more.

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When asked about getting the upper hand on coverage, Avant said that there are two ways to gain separation. The first? Sheer speed. But he contended that as players get older, sharpening one’s fundamentals is pivotal. And what better example of that than the “Big Fundamental” himself, Tim Duncan?

“You see Tim Duncan still playing at a high level because Tim Duncan was a fundamental player his whole career,” Avant said, “so when his talent or his speed or whatever he had kind of diminished or whatever it was, he still was able to play at a high level because he learned to play the game the right way.”

The pass-catcher continued, “That’s what I want to be able to do as a pro. Learn the game the right way and then as I get older, I’m still able to perform at a high level.”

Switching topics, Avant also offered his sympathies to Eric Berry, who was recently added to the non-football injury list due to a mass, suspected to be caused from lymphoma, spotted on his chest.

He remarked:

"I’ve played against Eric, and I’ve had a few brief conversations with him. But everyone that I know says that he is one of the humblest people that you will ever meet in your life. No matter who he is, when you find out that you may have something it’s very heart wrenching for anybody that is close to you. Everybody around this building and their reaction to this, it lets me know that he was a genuine person or that everybody around here loves him."

Finally, Avant told media that Kansas City, even at the dawn of free agency, was his ideal landing spot.

While that’s always convenient for incoming names to echo, it’s believable in No. 81’s case. (TWC Kansas City’s Nick Jacobs confirmed that the veteran will retain No. 81 as a member of the Chiefs.)

Avant relayed:

"The Chiefs were always my number one choice. Things don’t always work out the way that you want them to work out. I was glad to be able to come here on the second go around. This is where I always wanted to be, I always wanted to play for Coach (Andy) Reid and Coach (David) Culley, so it’s a dream come true for me."

While Week 13 expectations remain uncertain, it’s clear that if the Chiefs hope to make a postseason run, they desperately needed to bolster their receiving corps—regardless of when Avery returns. (Reid, per KCChiefs.com, stated that Avery has a “pretty good shot” at playing this Sunday.)

Avant’s signing injects the passing game with a healthy dose of experience and consistency. Furthermore, he now totes the best hands on the roster.

Something tells me that, even with a limited timeframe, Avant will become a familiar name throughout Kansas City.

Quotes obtained via press release unless otherwise noted.