When the NFL free agency period began, the Jaguars were among the first teams to call Chris Thompson. Jacksonville felt like home.
Which is the way it should have felt. From Madison to Tallahassee to Jacksonville, north Florida is where Thompson has spent most of his life. And it’s where he will play football in 2020.
“I’m excited to be part of the Jaguars,” Thompson said. “I’m a Florida State guy. A Florida boy. I’m excited to get back in my home state.”
Thompson, who turns 30 on Oct. 20, spent seven seasons in Washington and is back in Florida after signing with the Jaguars on May 1. At an age when most NFL running backs slow down, Thompson could still have plenty of mileage left.
Early on, though, Thompson’s NFL career appeared like it may stall out. He was cut late in the preseason by the Redskins in 2014 but Jay Gruden encourage him to stick around on the practice squad.
“He had that talk with me and I really appreciate it,” Thompson said. “Knowing that he had my back, it really meant a lot. He believed in me. He gave me every single opportunity that he possibly could.”
Thompson made the most of those opportunities. A fan favorite at FSU, Thompson ran for 845 yards in 2010 before suffering a back injury the next year. He battled back, running for 687 yards in just nine games in 2021 before a knee injury ended his season. Still, Thompson showed what he could do as a runner and receiver and the Redskins drafted him in the fifth round.
From 2013-19, Thompson had 250 carries for 1,194 rushing yards and five touchdowns in Washington. But he made a name for himself as a consistent receiver out of the backfield, catching 212 passes for 1,772 yards (8.4 yards per catch) and 10 touchdowns.
He was cut in the offseason but soon was reunited with Gruden, who is now the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator. His work ethic and production, as well as knowledge of what Gruden wants to run, made him an ideal fit in Jacksonville.
“For him, the more playmakers the better,” Thompson said. “He’s going to spread the ball around. It’s not going to be one guy that will be the full focus of the offense.”
Thompson could be a valuable part of the Jaguars. He may not be the feature back, but Thompson can do all the little things that are necessary. Thompson said he recalled some of the advice that then-FSU running backs coach Eddie Gran passed on when he was preparing for the NFL.
“If you can catch passes, play special teams and protect the QB you will be able to play in the league for a long time,” Thompson said. “I have the confidence in myself that I am a good pass catcher. I’ve accepted that role about myself and just trying to be one of the best that did it.”
All quotes courtesy of interview with Jaguars.com. Watch the full video interview here.