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For Reaves, re-signing with Washington feels like coming home

Jeremy Reaves - Free Agency Portrait - 16950504

Jeremy Reaves was all smiles as he sat in front of the mic for his press conference last week.

And why shouldn't he be? He was coming home.

"You know when you just go home after you've been gone for a minute? It feels like that," Reaves said.

As the Washington Commanders entered the new league year by releasing nearly half of their 2023 roster, coach Dan Quinn and general manager Adam Peters were presented with a unique opportunity for a nearly complete overhaul from the previous regime. Reaves was one of the few players they kept, and it isn't difficult to see why. Despite missing most of last season on Injured Reserve, he's regarded as one of the best special teams players in the league today, earning Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro selections in 2022.

There are no promises for players going through a coaching change, even mainstays like Reaves, but now he's back and ready to usher in the new era.

"It's harder to uproot and leave somewhere that you've just kind of invested so much time and effort in," Reaves said. "That played a huge role in me being here."

Other than spending about four months with the Philadelphia Eagles, Reaves has spent his entire career with Washington, though the role and his place on the roster has changed over the years. It took four years of ping-ponging between the active roster and practice squad before he earned a spot on the initial 53-man roster in 2022, tying for third among all special teamers with 17 tackles that year.

Reaves knack for sticking around the Commanders' facility meant that the 2024 offseason would be his first real experience with free agency. It was exciting, but there were multiple unknown factors; he was coming off a knee injury, which can affect how teams view players, and he didn't know how interested Washington's new staff was in keeping him.

Other teams did flirt with the possibility of signing Reaves, which was cool for him, but that didn't cause him to waver. He wanted to be in Washington, and if the Commanders wanted him, he was going to make it work.

"I was just kind of in the even keel phase of it, just seeing what happens," Reaves said. "This is home, man. This has been my home, and I'm excited that it still is."

Take a look at all the new players that were part of the Washington Commanders' free agency haul.

Clearly, the fanbase is excited that Reaves is back as well. Once the news broke that Washington was bringing him back, fans flooded social media with positive reactions and congratulations for the core special teamer. Reaves has one thing to say to Burgundy & Gold faithful: "Thank you."

"I feel like you guys [the fans] watched me grow up here," Reaves said to the fans. "Just everything that I've had to experience here and life, how it's knocked me down and how I've had to get back up and how you guys have helped me get back up, even when sometimes I didn't want to."

Reaves partially tore his ACL in Week 5, leading to months of recovery and uncertainty. It was easier to deal with, Reaves said, knowing that he had "a whole village behind me."

"It wasn't just my family or my girlfriend; it was everybody, fans included. I'm just happy to come back here and play my...ass of for you guys, because that's what I'm here to do, man."

Take a look behind the scenes as the Washington Commanders's player reported to the facility for the start of the offseason workout program.

Reaves has now played for three coaching staffs in his time with Washington, and the new staff has already made it clear how they plan to use him. The short explanation is that they're not changing much, if anything. They re-signed him because he's been a productive special teams player who exhibits strong leadership qualities and an unselfish approach to the game -- all of which are traits that make it easy for them to find a home for him in their scheme.

To sum it up, special teams coordinator Larry Izzo wants Reavo to be Reavo.

"He's kinda just letting the chains off me and letting me just go play football fast, and that's what I like to do," Reaves said.

And why shouldn't they? After all, that's why he's managed to stay in the DMV in the first place.

"I'm a hard guy to get rid of, I guess," Reaves said with a laugh.

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