Former Carolina tight end Greg Olsen says he has “been blown away” by the number of teams that have contacted him after his parting with the Panthers.
Among those teams are the Buffalo Bills, Washington and Seattle. Olsen said he expects to visit with the Bills and Redskins within the next eight or nine days and then will travel to Seattle as part of what he termed an “information gathering” process. He said other teams are trying to figure out “when and how” in regard to visits.
Olsen has strong relationships with Bills General Manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott from his time with them in Carolina. He also has a bond with Ron Rivera, the former Panthers coach who was hired by the Redskins last month.
“My idea is to go out there and see what level of interest there is before I make any decisions or cross into any post-career opportunities,” Olsen said Tuesday on WNFZ radio in Charlotte. “I want to make sure the right situation is not out there, waiting for me and looking me in the eyes. When I see what teams are interested and the situations, I can really sit there with all the information and make the best decision for me, and my family and the rest of my life. Right now, it’s an information gathering process and we’ll take that how it comes.”
Asked what his priorities will be in the process, Olsen said it goes beyond the obvious on-field issues and role.
“So many teams throughout the league present unique circumstances,” he said. “That’s what this process is. You can know the coach, you can know from playing against the team, but until you go there and meet the people that you don’t see – the trainers and strength coaches and support staff – and what’s the city like and so on. There are so many factors that go into it. … This is more than just are they going to throw me the ball.
“So much more goes into preparing in the offseason to play in the NFL. What’s the summer look like? What does the practice schedule look like? What kind of strength and conditioning program is there? What sort of resources are there for recovery? I take my training very seriously in order to play at a high level every year. You have to go there and meet with them. It’s really hard to say (what the priorities are). Part of the process right now is gathering all that information, laying it all on the table and seeing what’s important to me and check the boxes as I go.”
Olsen was officially released Monday, though he and the team parted ways last week. Olsen made clear the "mutual" decision was overblown and that he was willing to remain with the Panthers.
"The reality is they weren’t going to bring me back at current contract and given my age," he said. "I didn’t force my way out of here. If you guys want me back and I have a place on this roster come July, that was a whole different story. That wasn’t me deciding I was done, that was me reading the tea leaves through some stuff internally and seeing the writing on the wall."
A three-time Pro Bowler, Olsen is ranked fifth in NFL history in receptions and receiving yards by a tight end. However, he has been slowed by injuries the last three years and was limited to seven games in 2017, nine games in 2018, but played in 14 games last season.
“My career speaks for itself,” Olsen said. “When you stack up the guys who have played my position in the history of the NFL, there are only four guys ahead of me. This is a production-based business and as far as catches and yards, there are not many people ahead of me on that list. That’s something a lot of people forget.
“I had one injury in 13 years. I broke my foot and it just so happened that it was a little trickier of recovery. Outside of my foot breaking, I can play at a high level. Offensively, this season was a challenge, but … none of us were good enough to put together an efficient and effective offense regularly through the course of the season.”
Olsen had 52 catches for 597 yards and two touchdowns last season.
“I feel like I showed that I can play at a high level when given the opportunity,” he said. “I can still produce with the top guys in this league. I think I showed that the injury thing was part of the past.”