Twelve hours later that all changed.
On his 27th birthday, the cornerback signed a contract with the San Diego Chargers, which he now says is the best birthday present he’s ever had.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder is entering his fifth NFL season after spending his first four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s appeared in 49 career games with 12 starts, registering 100 tackles, two interceptions, six passes defensed and 33 special teams takedowns.
In 2012, he played in 10 games with three starts and finished the year with 18 tackles before a concussion ended his season. Middleton had been frustrated that he had gone the entire offseason without being signed. But now that he is with the Bolts, he realizes it all happened for a reason.
“My agent called me Friday while I was actually on the phone with the San Francisco 49ers,” he said. “But after talking with (general manager) Tom Telesco and the coaching staff, I realized this was a good fit. So I worked out for them earlier today and signed my contract and I couldn’t be happier. San Diego is a really good fit because it’s a team that really wants me. And I really want to be here. My brother is a naval academy guy stationed out here. It’s a nice fit for me. The team has a nice atmosphere about it. The guys really accepted me as soon as I stepped out on the field, which is really impressive, so I really do like it here.”
“This is all new to me, but I’ll roll with the punches,” he said. “I’ll adapt and I’ll be fine. That’s what makes you the person that you are when you adapt to new things and changes. You have to adapt to new language, but football is football. The more you know the more you play free and be faster.”
That being said, Middleton credits secondary coaches Ron Milus and Greg Williams for helping him with his adjustment.
“The coaches that we have here are phenomenal and will make the transition easy,” he said.” Coach Milus and coach Williams are tremendous. They were really communicative to me today. They handed me the playbook and let me know what this is and what that is. They were really instrumental in giving me a crash course. “
It also doesn’t hurt that the Chargers have Middleton’s good friend
“Oh man it brought me a big smile when I saw him out there today,” he laughed. “Derek and I, we were teammates together for four years down in Jacksonville. We started a bunch of games opposite each other. Derek’s a really good guy. I can’t say enough about his character and his play on the field. It definitely helps having that familiar face out here. He’s a really good friend of mine. I called him in the offseason when he signed here and told him congratulations and that I hoped things worked out for him in San Diego. Lo and behold here I am now!”
Be sure to come out and watch Middleton during the remaining open training camp dates to the public. Click here for more information.