JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Cody Kessler was ready to move on. He knew his time in Cleveland was coming to an end.
The third-year quarterback saw the signs of his impending departure. The actions taken by the Browns' coaching staff and front office were hard to ignore.
He was benched for the likes of DeShone Kizer and Kevin Hogan during his second year with the Browns, despite setting a handful of franchise records as a rookie. During the early offseason, the Browns went out of their way to curb the musical chairs at the quarterback position by trading for former Buffalo Bills starter Tyrod Taylor.
"My agent was talking to them, and obviously they got Tyrod [Taylor] and what happened last year, I think I didn't really have a future there," Kessler said during a phone conversation with First Coast News on Tuesday.
"I told my agent I wanted [another] opportunity ... It was kind of a long process through it all and obviously, I've only been in the league for two years, so I didn't really know how it worked but [my agent] just told me 'if that's what you want to do, we'll work on it and see what we can do.'"
On March 28, Kessler and fellow NFL quarterback and USC alumni, Matt Barkley, were playing a round of golf during a break from their offseason workouts. Kessler received a text from his agent indicating that he was traded to the Jaguars.
Kessler was excited by the opportunity, as he had studied his new team prior to their matchup against the Browns in Week 11 of last season. He saw the potential and positivity surrounding the franchise and wanted to contribute to its success moving forward.
"Once I heard the news, I was beyond excited," Kessler said.
Kessler was acquired by the Jaguars for a conditional 2019 seventh-round pick. It was an easy price to pay for Jacksonville, as the team was looking for a replacement for veteran backup quarterback Chad Henne.
Despite the predicament of being a backup again, Kessler was happy to have a fresh start, regardless of his role.
"Nothing against Cleveland, they drafted me and gave me an opportunity and I'm forever thankful for that but - yeah - with how last year went and kind of the situation I was dealt with, I definitely wanted to go somewhere else," Kessler said.
Kessler had experienced highs and lows during his time with the Browns.
As a rookie, he impressed with a 65.5 completion percentage, which is a Cleveland franchise record for a first-year quarterback. He started eight games, and while the Browns were 0-8 in those contests, the young quarterback flashed NFL ability regularly.
"My rookie year, I kind of got thrown into the fire and we had some injuries, and by Week 3, I was starting as a rookie and was kind of thrown in there, ran with it and ended up starting eight games," Kessler said.
"It was a tough situation but it really was very valuable for me to be able to have that experience in actual game-like situations, playing in games and going up against actual NFL defenses and preparing each week."
During his second season, the coaching staff decided to play Kizer - who has since been traded to the Green Bay Packers - over Kessler. The former third-round pick only appeared in three games as a backup last season.
"Obviously, last year was tough and frustrating, not being able to get on the field, after having some success as a rookie," Kessler said.
"But I think it also prepared me for the mental side of it as well. When things aren't going your way, you just keep working and even though I wasn't playing, I went to practice every day and stayed after and did everything I could to prepare myself [as] a starter if I get that opportunity again someday, wherever it may be and that was just my whole process last year."
Kessler's outlook on the trade to Jacksonville has been nothing but positive.
He is looking forward to working with offseason workout partner and Jaguars starting quarterback Blake Bortles. The two have formed a bond over the years and Bortles was one of the first to reach out to Kessler when the trade became official.
"He said 'Welcome to Jacksonville, [I'm] excited to have you [here], we're going to be spending a lot of time together'" Kessler said.
"It was cool to get that text from him and then we saw each other that week throwing [at workouts]. Blake is awesome. He had a great year last year, played at a really high level, so it's been really exciting to learn from him this offseason and really pick his brain these last couple of weeks and pretty much learn everything I can about this offense and everything that goes through his mind with the day-to-day process."
On paper, Kessler is a strong fit for the Jaguars' offensive system. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett calls similar plays to the ones used at USC while Kessler was with the Trojans.
"Already talking to Coach Hackett and [quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich] and just getting to know them and their philosophy behind this offense and them teaching it to me, it's really similar to a lot of the things I've done before with the West Coast-style offense, especially at USC," Kessler said.
The young quarterback is looking forward to learning from Bortles, Hackett and Milanovich this summer. He is also excited about facing the Jaguars' vaunted defense.
He believes that playing against the Jacksonville defense will make him and the team's offense better.
"I think it's big, especially at the quarterback position," Kessler said.
"Going up against one of the top defenses in the league every single day and competing against them is something that gets me excited. It's something that really helps you as a quarterback and really anywhere on offense when your defense is one of the best in the league and you've got to prepare for it and you've got to treat every practice like a game."
Much like with Bortles, Kessler has a background with Jaguars rookie quarterback Tanner Lee. The two have known each other for a while and Kessler can help prepare Lee for the next level.
"I met Tanner at the Manning Camp when we were in college, so I knew him before that," Kessler said. "He got here a couple of days ago, I've gotten to talk to him a couple of times, but I've told him to enjoy it and it's a pretty awesome feeling whether you're a first-round pick or you're not drafted at all."
Kessler's optimism regarding his new job and locker room should serve him well as he competes for the Jaguars' backup quarterback job. He is happy to have a new opportunity to showcase his talent.
"It's almost like a fresh start," Kessler said.
"Jacksonville is a great place. What they did last year - even the last couple years - kind of building this team, the defense especially, just seeing the excitement around the organization was something I was most excited about when I first got here. It was nice to kind of get a fresh start and liked I said, I couldn't be more excited about Jacksonville."
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter: @Mike_E_Kaye.