New Orleans Saints Tight End Nick Vannett
Video Call with Local Media
Monday, March 29, 2020
"First off, I just want to thank Mrs. Benson and Sean Payton for the opportunity to be a New Orleans Saint. I'm just super thrilled about it. I'm just excited to finally be here and get everything finalized. It's a great opportunity to be with a very successful organization, an organization that has a rich, winning culture. When I got released from the Broncos, they were one of my first calls. I talked to Sean Payton that night, and we had a very, very good conversation and just talking to him today, it just really got me excited and just sort of visualizing the opportunity of being a New Orleans Saint. Like I said, man, you're going to hear me say throughout this whole call that I'm just fired up to be here and fired up to be a Saint."
You mentioned you got to talk to Sean Payton about coming here, what was some of the specifics in that conversation that got you excited?
"It started off, we were just kind of shooting back and forth a little bit, trying to get to know each other. Obviously, I was in California and so we were talking about that and then he kind of got into his recruiting pitch a little bit. But let's be honest, like, you don't need to really sell much about being a Saint, it kind of speaks for itself. He just talked about everything from the offense, like, how well the offense has ranked in the top 10 over the time that he's been the coach here and just the opportunity. Just kind of like the duty that they expect the tight ends to take on in the offense. For me, like, I've always considered myself to be a good dual threat guy. I'm not someone who's going to take the top off the defense, but I'm someone who can stay on the field, and I can do whatever is asked out of me. I think one thing that's underrated for me is just my hands and the things I can offer in the pass game. Just talking to him, it seems like he felt that I'm a guy's fit (was) underutilized, and he he kind of saw some potential in me and it sounds like he wanted me to be a part of the Saints, he thinks that I can add something special that's going on here. Just talking to him and hear everything that he had to say about me, man, it just made me feel good as a player, as a person. And I'm just getting chills thinking about it right now. It's just one of those things where it feels like it's just a solid, great opportunity to be a part of and I just couldn't be any more fired up about it."
When you said being a Saint kind of speaks for itself, what were some of the things I guess you heard from a distance? Or did you have any contact with anyone who had been in the program?
"Every once in a while, I'd not say a lot of guys, but, like, a lot of guys who I played with in college (at Ohio State) are on the team, Mike Thomas, Marshon Lattimore just to name a couple. I have talked to Mike Thomas a few times and it is not really so much of what he'd say, it's kind of from the outside looking in, man. If you open up any social media (app), you'll see all the fun the Saints have in the locker room after the game, after they win, and it just looks like the camaraderie of the team's just super special. It is very rare to find, it's very rare to find that in the NFL. I think when I started my career in Seattle, I think that was another place that had a very, very strong culture, very strong camaraderie within the locker room. Man, just seeing that stuff kind of, I just remember how much I enjoyed that and being a part of that. I'm a big guy and I pride myself on energy, on being energetic and feeding off of other people's energy and when you're part of a locker room that provides that, who doesn't want to be around that? It makes it more fun. Obviously, it helps to the camaraderie of the team and, man, that helps win games on Sundays. You're going to want to do it for your brother next to you and when you get closer to them, like, you'll do whatever it takes. Again, just thrilled to be a part of something so special like that."
When you're looking at this offense and the tight ends roll in it specifically, what kind of gets you excited about that?
"I think just the role of being the Y tight end. I think, obviously, one of my strengths is my ability to block and that's something that I'll forever improve on, every year, that's something I'll always try to become elite in. I think when you got guys like Alvin (Kamara) and Latavius (Murray) in the backfield, two very respected running backs, and then to be able to mix things up offensively, to create mismatches and to keep the defense on their heels and do play action and all these different things you can do in this offense, it seems like the role just gets expanded for the tight end, not only in the run game, but the pass game as well. Like I said before, I always felt I can offer a lot more in the pass game when given the opportunity and it sounds like I'll be able to get that opportunity to do that, from what my talk with Sean Payton was about. Again, just very excited to be able to put the black and gold on and go out there and just give my all because I think they're believing in me so I owe everything I can to this organization."
One of those things that people say about you is they call you a blocking tight end, and you're talking about stuff you can do as a pass catcher. Do you feel like you've been mischaracterized a little bit, just based on the opportunities you've maybe not had throughout your career so far?
"Yeah, absolutely. I think going into the draft, that was the biggest thing was like, I was the best blocking tight end in my in my draft class. But when people ask me, 'oh, what's your best part of your game?' I've always thought I've had really good hands. I'm a very sure handed receiver. Usually, when the ball comes my way, I usually bring it in. I feel like my ball skills are really good. Every opportunity I (have) to show that area, I always try to. I think last year was tough with COVID and not having OTAs because that's typically when you can go out and be able to show your ability during OTAs or in a Minicamp and stuff like that. So I don't think I was able to show that as much as if I would during a normal year. But, yeah, I think for me, I'm an ascending player. I think each year I get better and better and better. I always find areas to work on, or that I think I can improve in and I always try to focus on that each year in the offseason. It is allowing me to become an all-around player and all around very solid player. So that's just my mindset, I'm trying to improve in every area I that I can each year, and I want to be in the league as long as I can. And I think as long as I continue to have that mindset and continue to have that work ethic, like, I'll be able to show the true play that I am."
I don't want to put you on the spot here, but do you know anything about Adam Trautman, or have you seen him play at all? Or do you have any thoughts on how you guys would fit together?
"Yeah, we're actually represented by the same agent. I remember my first conversation with him when he called me because he was considering on signing with my agent. So I talked with him on the phone, didn't know much about him at the time, just knew he went to Dayton, but yeah, I mean, just through the agency. We're actually out in the same area right now in Orange County (Calif.) training. So I see him almost every day. The moment I hung up with Sean Payton, I called him to just kind of fill him in on the possibility of playing together. I think we would be a great dynamic duo. I think he had a great rookie year. I think he's someone who can offer a lot in the passing game, and in the run game. But from the sounds of it, I think they like him as the F tight end where I'd be able to come in as the Y tight end. I just think with my experience and adding to what he's able to do, I think that I can really help him out in some areas that typically you wouldn't learn right away, it takes experience to kind of pick up on some nuances and things of that nature. So I think there's things that I can help him out with, as long as him being able to help me out with the offense. I think it'll be a great partnership being on the field with him at the same time. So we definitely talked about that. We're already at work, and we're going to get to work right away and create that Brotherhood."
You're join in a team that's going to be breaking in a new starting quarterback, whether it's Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill. I'm curious if that was something you considered when signing here, and if you think it's a challenge, or maybe an advantage, because you'll be kind of learning and growing with them?
"Yeah, so I kind of went through the same situation last year in Denver, Drew Lock was becoming the quarterback and it wasn't like a stable quarterback situation, there was obviously some competition going on there. But I think the thing with Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston is that, I mean, these are guys that have really stepped into the game and they've really shown a lot that they can do when behind center. Not just with the Saints, but in Jameis' case, like when he was at the Buccaneers. I think we all know what he's able to do, and the potential that he has. I consider him a great quarterback. From talking to Sean, from talking to even Trautman, everybody has a lot of belief in him, everybody loves him as a person, everyone loves him as a player. And I think just the environment that we have in this locker room and in this organization, like I think that allows, like when he had that trust in someone, I think it allows some people to be able to take it to the next level of their game. Knowing that, okay, my teammates trust me to do the job, it kind of gives you that extra motivation, if you will. So like I said, from the sounds of it, it sounds like everybody's very, they're trusting that whether it's Taysom, whether it's Jameis that either one's going to do a great job. Obviously filling in for Drew Brees' shoes, that's a tough task in itself for anybody, but it sounds like that they're going to do a very good job with that."