Kerry Wynn was ready for a fresh start, but his decision to sign with the Cincinnati Bengals was helped by the familiarity he has with new defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo.
The defensive end became a free agent after five years with the New York Giants, where he got to know Anarumo last year. Anarumo was the Giants’ defensive backs coach and had reached out to Wynn to recruit him to Cincinnati.
Wynn, a 6-foot-5, 264 pounds, signed a one-year contract on Wednesday. He played in 62 career games with 15 starts for the Giants, including 14 games and five starts last year, and totaled 140 tackles, 4.5 sacks, five passes defensed, an interception and two forced fumbles over five seasons.
“He reached out to me, and I saw it was a great opportunity, came for the visit and everything was great,” Wynn said on a conference call with local media Wednesday. “I met the coaches, and I loved it here. I saw myself playing here, and I knew being with the Giants for five years, it was comfortable there, but I had to think about what was the best decision for my career and I’m excited to be here. It feels like the right decision for sure.”
Wynn said he didn’t have an extremely close relationship with Anarumo since he spent most of his time with his line coach and defensive coordinator, but they talked when their paths crossed and he always had a pre-game routine where Anarumo would toss him a few balls on the sideline and rotate him into catching drills with his defensive backs. Wynn admitted he didn’t even know Anarumo was the Bengals new defensive coordinator until Anarumo called him, but if it weren’t for that connection, Wynn isn’t sure where he would have landed.
Right tackle Bobby Hart is another guy Wynn knows from New York. Hart came to Cincinnati on a one-year deal last season and re-signed for another three years this offseason. Wynn and Hart had some battles on the practice fields during their time playing together, and although he hasn’t reached out to Hart yet, he plans to soon.
“It’s been a blur,” Wynn said. “Everything happened so fast. I’ve been just packing the apartment up and getting ready for the transition, trying to make it as smooth as possible.”
Wynn played under three different line coaches in New York and is ready to begin with another new one. He spent time as a third-down pass rusher but also played first and second down in the run defense and said he can contribute in whatever role the Bengals want him.
“I’m a physical guy, I don’t take plays off,” Wynn said. “I’m always running to the ball. I’m versatile and look forward to making some plays here.”
Wynn is thankful for the opportunity to continue his career with the Bengals. He originally signed with the Giants as an undrafted college free agent in 2014, coming out of the University of Richmond and remembers his rookie season waiting by his phone on the day of final cuts, hoping he wouldn’t get a call. In that situation, a call means bad news.
His dad called just before the 4 p.m. roster deadline, and Wynn said he “almost had a heart attack” until he realized who it was. This process was a little easier to handle, as he had a little more say in his future.
“It’s a blessing to be where I am and to sign to be in my sixth year in the NFL,” Wynn said. “A lot of guys don’t make it to this point, especially undrafted guys. I was fighting just to make the 53 for the Giants my rookie year coming in undrafted, so it’s definitely a blessing. I feel like that’s why I play so hard. I never take any play for granted because I know how hard it was and how bad I wanted what I have now.”
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