Stephenville football fans are getting excited as they look forward to watching the New England Yellow Jackets.
No, the Patriots haven’t changed their mascot name. But when the team announced on Monday that it had signed NFL veteran Cody Davis as a free agent, it meant that the Patriots now have two former Stephenville High School Yellow Jackets. Jarrett Stidham, a 2015 SHS graduate, became the No. 1 quarterback on the team’s depth chart with the recent departure of the legendary departure of Tom Brady.
“It’s pretty awesome that two players from a small town would end up on the same team,” Davis told the Empire-Tribune. “I’m pretty excited.”
Davis, a 2008 SHS graduate, said Thursday that his contract with the Patriots is for one year. The contract was sent by mail, and all of the negotiations had been done via telephone because of the current coronavirus threat. The deal was actually finalized on March 20, three days before it was formally announced by the Patriots, Davis said.
After the Patriots recently lost special teams standout and safety Nate Ebner to free agency, Davis seemed to be a perfect fit with New England, and his agent was in touch with several teams as possible options after leaving the Jaguars. Davis plays safety on defense, but so far in the NFL he has made a mark as a sought-after special teams performer.
“I was keeping track of the top special teamers, to see what the (free agent) market was going to do,” Davis said. “I had four or five teams that were interested. After they lost Ebner, that’s when the Patriots joined the conversation.”
With the Patriots’ long history of playoff and Super Bowl success, Davis leaned their way.
He said that as a 30-year-old entering what will be his eighth NFL season, his priorities have changed from what they were when he was younger. He also was wanting to join a team with a better chance of doing well in the playoffs because he has only been able to play in one postseason game up to this point.
“It (priorities) means a lot of things,” Davis said. “More and more, for me, it’s more about fit than chasing money.”
Boston.com published an online article saying that Davis “reportedly” signed a $1.1 million contract.
He said that his priorities are “faith, family and football,” and added, “I try to keep it in that order.”
Davis said that even though Stidham is seven years younger, he has kept up with his football journey both in direct phone conversations, and “from afar.”
“I reached out to him before I signed, to pick his brain, more out of respect,” Davis said. “We always kept up with each other from afar.”
Davis played for Texas Tech and signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2013. His last two seasons were with the Jaguars.
Davis, a 6-2, 200-pound safety, has played in 97 NFL games, posting 83 tackles while intercepting two passes and forcing a pair of fumbles.
Davis and his wife Ashley have two young boys, and he said that they have another one due in June. Their primary residence is in Fort Worth, but now they will be looking for a convenient home to rent during his time with New England.
Davis was a three-year starter at safety and two-time all-state performer for the SHS Yellow Jackets. He earned first-team all-state recognition for his senior season, when he recorded 109 tackles. As a junior, he intercepted nine passes and had 99 tackles.
Following his senior season at Texas Tech, Davis was an academic All-America selection, and for the second year in a row he made second team All-Big 12 at safety. He started 49 games for the Red Raiders.
The six-time Super Bowl champion Brady announced he would not be resigning with New England, and later agreed to a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
On March 18, NBC Sports reported online that Michael Lombardi, a former assistant coach with New England who reportedly is still friends with head coach Bill Belichick, was quoted as saying that he thinks Stidham is the team’s future.
“I think that the Patriots realized that it’s time for them to get on with their future, which is Jarrett Stidham,” Lombardi was quoted as saying during his own recent podcast. “I think it’s time for them to change what they do offensively around a younger, mobile, multi-dimensional player in terms of footwork, and stay away from the intellectual type that they’ve had.”
Davis has consistently made trips back to Stephenville each year to oversee youth football camps at SHS, raising money for causes such as the Stephenville Education Foundation.
He said that he has tentatively set the 2020 football camp in Stephenville for late June, but the final official date will be announced later. The camp is made possible by local businesses such as title sponsor Bruner Motors, as well as a grant from the NFL Foundation.