Thomas Davis never thought he'd play for any team other than the Carolina Panthers.
That's what happens when you stay in the same place for 14 seasons, ranking first in franchise history with 1,258 career tackles while earning Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors along the way.
However, after hitting free agency for the first time in his career, Davis instantly knew where he wanted to play next.
In fact, he made his decision to join the Bolts so quickly, it took his wife by surprise.
"When the Chargers' offer first came on the table, me and my wife were kind of lying there and when I said yes, she said, 'Wait, wait, wait - we didn't have a chance to talk about it!'" Davis shared during his introductory press conference. "But when you know, you just know. I just knew that this was a perfect opportunity. It felt comfortable. It felt right."
Well, every player's first priority is to win a Super Bowl, and Davis made no bones about how strongly he feels about the Chargers' roster . The linebacker repeatedly stressed the team's talent, noting how close they came in 2018 after finishing with an AFC-best 12-4 record.
"Fourteen years of never being able to enter into free agency, once you have that opportunity and you feel like you can select the place that can ultimately come in and make a Super Bowl run, you don't turn it down," he said. "That was the situation right here. I feel like this is a Super Bowl-caliber team, and I just want to add to that… On the outside looking in, when you look at this football team, you see a ton of great guys that are out there playing for each other and playing to try to win football games. It's not a selfish football team or guys that are thinking about themselves."
As an added bonus, Davis has several ties to the Chargers' coaching staff, including a former teammate of his in Carolina.
"I know a lot of the coaches on the staff, particularly defensively," he said. "I know (Linebackers) Coach (Richard) Smith. I know (Defensive Backs) Coach (Ron) Milus. (Assistant Defensive Backs Coach) Chris Harris was one of my former teammates in Carolina, so it just felt right to be able to select an organization like the Chargers, and knowing that this is a team that is not very far from being able to win a Super Bowl Championship. I want to be a part of the group that does that."
Everyone knows what the 35-year old Davis has accomplished in his career thus far. However, the Bolts are more interested in what he brings to the table going forward.
To that end, the 15-year vet is dead-set on proving each and every Sunday that he's still among the league's top linebackers.
"Absolutely," he said. "That's the mindset that I take year in and year out. It doesn't matter if it's my first year or if this is going to be my last year. I'm going out with the same mindset that I'm going to show and prove (it). I've always done that, and this year isn't going to be any different. It's all about going (all) out, and you can't live on your past assets. You have to be able to show up week in and week out and show what you're capable of doing. You don't get any passes in this league. If you don't play well, they're going to replace you. My mindset, I'm going to come in and be the best linebacker on this team. Be the best linebacker in this league week in and week out. That's my mindset."
The Bolts have no doubt that'll be the case.
Just ask General Manager Tom Telesco and Head Coach Anthony Lynn.
"He brings a lot to the table for us,' said Telesco. (Weakside) linebacker. He's played a lot of football, and he's still playing at a remarkably high level. (With) 14 years in the league, that's obviously the first thing you have to look at. Is he still playing at a high enough level? And he is…He loves to play football. He's competitive. Tough. Smart. That's everything you're looking for. He can bring a lot to the defense, and bring along some young guys, too. But that's not why we signed him. We signed him because he can still play, and play at a pretty high level."
"We have a young linebacker group, and adding Thomas to that group can do nothing but help," added Lynn. "But Thomas can still play. I love his intangibles, but three out of the last four years this man's been a Pro Bowler. So, he can still play, but at the same time, he brings intangibles that are off the charts….The way he plays the game, you can't have enough guys who play with that type of intensity. And that's what we want. We brought him in so he can do that."