VACAVILLE — Kyle DeVan knows better than most that nothing is permanent in the NFL.
Just three years after starting in Super Bowl XLIV for the Indianapolis Colts, the 2003 Vacaville High graduate was signed five times by the Tennessee Titans during the 2012 season, four times after being released by the same team.
“I’ve been around the league five years, I understand the situation,” DeVan said in a phone interview. “GMs have to dress the best 46 guys. They told me to stay around, that I’d be signed next week.”
After spending part of the 2011 season with the Philadelphia Eagles, DeVan signed as a free agent with the Titans on June 4, 2012. He made it through to the last preseason game before being released on Aug. 31.
DeVan celebrated Halloween by re-signing with the Titans, only to be released on Nov. 3 to make room for safety Tracy Wilson.
Four days later, DeVan was back aboard, but was cut on Nov. 24 when the Titans signed running back Darren Evans.
DeVan signed again on Nov. 27 when Evans was put on injured reserve, only to be let go four days later to make room for fullback Collin Mooney.
The circus ended on Dec. 4 when DeVan was signed for the rest of the season, playing in the Titans’ final four games.
“There’s always uncertainty in the NFL,” DeVan said. “A guy gets hurt and they may have to sign somebody else. That was the hardest issue, knowing there were outliers in the game that would affect my situation (on a) Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning.”
DeVan’s season took a dramatic turn during a 14-10 Monday night victory on Dec. 17 over the New York Jets, a team that had signed and released DeVan early in his career, when starting center Kevin Matthews was sidelined in the first quarter with an injury.
DeVan was pressed into service at center despite not having played the position extensively since his days at Oregon State.
“The center got hurt in play 11 or 12,” DeVan said. “I played the rest of the game. It was fun playing against a team that released you.”
Especially in the second quarter when Titans halfback Chris Johnson broke off a 94-yard touchdown dash, the longest run in franchise history.
It all started with a DeVan block, for which he drew profuse praise from Monday Night Football announcers John Gruden and Mike Tirico.
“That part was pretty neat to be involved in, especially that the run started right behind my right butt cheek,” DeVan said with a laugh. “It was good. Hopefully, when they list that play in the history books they’ll list the offensive line.”
Two weeks later, DeVan made his only start of the season, a 38-20 thumping of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Since then, he’s been in limbo as an unrestricted free agent with teams unable to talk to his agent until March 9.
“Last year I was out for eight months before I had the opportunity to play again. This (coming) year, I don’t know,” DeVan said. “Once March comes, teams might call right away, they might not call at all. That’s the fun and exciting part of the game right now. My agent can’t call teams, can’t ask which teams have good vibes about me. Once March comes it’s a free-for-all. I could go anywhere, I could go nowhere.”
DeVan, who’s working out in Oregon in preparation for the 2013 season, feels he has plenty of football yet to play.
“Gosh, everyone says (they want to play) as long as they can,” DeVan said. “The thing I guess I will say is, the Week 17 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, if that’s the last game of my NFL career I could walk away a happy person. That’s the way it is in the NFL, you always have to look that I had a great career. If I play three more years, that’s great, that’s icing on the cake. I played longer than the average player’s career.”
Most players don’t get to experience and play in a Super Bowl, which is the highlight of DeVan’s career despite a tough 31-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints. This week’s events in New Orleans can’t help but bring back memories.
“It’s chaos, it really is. There are so many of you guys, so many media, you can’t really describe it, especially media day,” DeVan said. “There’s media from all over the world. I think I did interviews for seven different countries. When they interviewed me they wanted me to explain what I did. They may not understand the Super Bowl, but they’re going to watch because of the commercials and pageantry.”
Any advice for the 49ers and Ravens?
“I’d just tell them to enjoy every minute when practice isn’t going, Monday, Tuesday when it’s a slower pace, sit back and enjoy everything,” he said. “I tried to do dinners with family every night in town. We did lunches, after practice when everybody was there. That’s the part I’ll have forever. I have pictures, but the mental aspect I’ll always have with me.”
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.