Desmond Trufant has never forgotten his roots.
The football product from the small-town of Tacoma, Washington, agreed to a five-year, $69 million contract extension with the Falcons on Saturday.
Trufant plans to come to Atlanta this week and sign his deal before joining his teammates in Miami for their players-only camp.
“If feels great,” Trufant told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via phone from his parents’ house in Tacoma on Saturday. “I’m very humbled. Blessed. I’ve come a long ways to get to this point.
“I just have to thank God, my family, Mr. (Arthur) Blank, (Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn.) All of my family and teammates. Just everybody. All of my past coaches. Everybody that helped me get to this point. It’s been a long time coming and a lot of people helped me get here.”
Trufant, 26, was selected in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2013 draft out of the University of Washington. He started immediately as a rookie and was named to the Pro Bowl in his third season.
Last season, Trufant was having a fine campaign and was matching up with the opponent’s No. 1 receiver before suffering a season-ending torn pectoral injury after nine games.
He’s still recovering.
“I’m feeling good,” Trufant said. “I’m working out every day. I’m getting a lot of my strength back. I’m feeling good. Obviously, we are definitely taking it slow. I’m not ready for full-speed, practice-type reps, but I’m feeling good. I’m going to be in great shape by the time that training camp comes.”
About $42 million of the deal is guaranteed. His average of $13.8 million per year is just south of Josh Norman’s deal with Washington. He was signed to a five-year, $75 million deal with $36.5 million guaranteed, which is the highest-valued contract at the position.
“It feels great,” Trufant said. “That’s what you work for. That’s what, getting to that second contract, that’s what really solidifies a lot of things. It’s humbling to be in this position because not many people get here. I just feel blessed.”
The Falcons stated that re-signing Trufant was their No. 1 offseason priority.
“I know that we have a great team,” Trufant said. “A lot of young guys. A lot of great veterans. We have a lot of good pieces so we are going to be really good for a long time. That’s really what I’m most excited about is to be with Atlanta. We are going to try to make a run.”
Trufant has eased into a key leadership role on the young defense.
“I’m definitely a lead-by-example type guy,” Trufant said. “I’m always talking to the guys, but I’m not the biggest rah-rah guy. I just lead by example, my work ethic, my demeanor and just my swagger on the field. My demeanor and swagger just kind of rubs off on people. That’s my best way of leading. Just doing it by pure action and the joy that I play the game with.”
Trufant admits that it was difficult watching the Falcons make their run to the Super Bowl.
“It was hard,” Trufant said. “I wanted to be out there. I would have given anything to be out there, but it just didn’t work out for me. I had to accept it. I just had to live through my team and live through my brothers at that point. Help them in any way that I could especially in the Super Bowl that was really, really hard to not be a part of because I really wanted to be out there.
“We were working toward that the whole year, but everything happens for a reason. That is motivating me even more to work harder and do whatever I have to do to get back to that point.”
The laid back Trufant doesn’t plan to buy any flashy new car with his new cash.
“Everything is still kind of sinking in,” Trufant said. “I really don’t need too much. My parents don’t need too much. My whole family has been blessed for years. This is just another big blessing. Probably a house of something like that. Other than that, I’m good.
“I’m more business-minded, investments and trying to build my portfolio. That’s really what I’m focused on.”
Trufant has recorded 213 total tackles, three sacks, seven interceptions, four forced fumbles, four fumbles recoveries, and 53 passes defensed in his four-year career.
Trufant marks the ninth player the Falcons have either re-signed or extended, dating to last season.