Any disappointment that came from not hearing his name called during the NFL Draft went away quickly for Brady Russell.
The former Colorado tight end got a call from the San Francisco 49ers as soon as the draft ended on Saturday. A deal was in place for Russell to head to the Bay Area.
“It was to where I told my family, ‘Go ’Niners!,’” Russell said.
About five minutes later, the Philadelphia Eagles called.
“It was the kind of deal, enough money where you’re like, ‘I can’t say no to this. That’d be just stupid to say no to this,’” Russell said.
With that, Russell agreed to join the Eagles as an undrafted free agent on Saturday, kick-starting his professional career.
For the second consecutive year, no Buffs were selected in the NFL Draft, but Russell was one of four signed as an undrafted free agent. Receiver/special teams player Daniel Arias (Arizona Cardinals), defensive end Terrance Lang (Los Angeles Chargers) and outside linebacker Guy Thomas (Indianapolis Colts) also got free agent deals. Linebackers Robert Barnes (Seattle Seahawks) and Quinn Perry (New York Giants) were invited to rookie minicamps.
“That fires me up,” Russell said of the opportunities provided to his former teammates. “I love that opportunity for them. There were individuals (on last year’s CU team) that definitely have ability and I’m glad they at least have a chance to show it and it didn’t just get cut off because of how poorly we performed as a team. They have an opportunity to prove themselves, so that’s pretty dang cool.”
Russell is among that group after spending six seasons with the Buffs. Originally a walk-on from Fossil Ridge High School, Russell earned a scholarship early in his career and finished with 78 catches for 799 yards and three touchdowns.
Russell impressed scouts during his pro day workout at CU in March, but didn’t hear from the Eagles until Wednesday, the day before the draft began.
Signing with the Eagles makes sense because of Russell’s natural connection. Former CU star linebacker Matt Russell is Brady’s uncle and also a senior personnel director and advisor to the general manager for the Eagles.
Still, after the Eagles made the offer, Russell called his uncle to make sure it wasn’t a family favor type of deal.
“He’s like, ‘Dude, it is so far from it,’” Russell said, adding he was told that Eagles general manager Howie Roseman wanted Russell to fill a roster need.
“It was super, super cool for it to just fall together like that.”
Russell had a gathering with family and friends on Saturday, but said he wasn’t nervous throughout the draft, even as he didn’t getting picked. He said he leaned on his faith.
“There was zero time where I was worried about what was going to happen,” he said. “I just felt like it was so in God’s hands and wherever I was supposed to be, I was gonna be.”
Going undrafted puts the odds against him to make the team, but that hasn’t hurt his confidence. There are plenty of undrafted players in history who have made NFL rosters and excelled, including Russell’s former CU teammate, Phillip Lindsay.
“I’ve got a good feeling. I ain’t too worried at all,” Russell said. “When it comes down to it, I’m just so comfortable with where (God) has put me and it’s all gonna go exactly how He wants it to, I guess, as long as I pull my end of the bargain.”
That process begins this week when Russell goes to minicamp and puts on the pads for the first time in months.
“I’m so excited to get going,” he said. “Unbelievable amount of excitement. … It doesn’t really feel real yet, for sure.”