TAMPA — One year, two draft picks and $16 million later, Darrelle Revis is no longer a Bucs cornerback.
After the Pro Bowl player was released Wednesday afternoon after the Bucs were unable to find a trade partner willing to take on his $16 million salary, Revis landed with the Patriots hours later with a one-year deal for $12 million, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported. New England needed to replace Aqib Talib, a former Buc who joined the Broncos.
As much as the Bucs gave up to get Revis — a 2013 first-round draft pick and a fourth-round pick in May's draft — Tampa Bay carefully chose to let him go for nothing in return. The team's new leadership made it clear with Revis' release that they preferred the flexibility of having $16 million to spend on multiple players who could help the team's many needs.
"We're going to not look in the rear-view mirror and look forward. We're excited about the future now," new general manager Jason Licht said, introducing four free agents who joined the team at a combined average cost of less than what Revis would have made had he stayed.
"It was a tough decision. (Revis is) a good player, a very good player. We've said that from the beginning. We've been able to add four, five very good players as well."
The previous Bucs administration — led by general manager Mark Dominik and coach Greg Schiano, both fired in December after a 4-12 season — had invested heavily in Revis, who was coming off knee surgery, hoping he could turn a 7-9 team in 2012 into a playoff team. The Bucs started 0-8.
Tasked with rebuilding the Bucs into a relevant playoff contender, Licht and coach Lovie Smith have signed five free agents in two days, including new starting quarterback Josh McCown, defensive end Michael Johnson and cornerback Alterraun Verner.
Verner, 25, faces the challenge of replacing Revis. Verner, who shined in four seasons with the Titans and signed a four-year, $26 million deal, said Wednesday he is not trying to fill Revis' shoes as much as showing the Bucs they made a wise investment in signing him.
"It's hard to replace a guy like that," said Verner, who had five interceptions last year and tied for the league lead with 23 passes defended. "I'm going to come in and be the best Alterraun Verner I can be, the best football player I can be for this team. I think what (the Bucs are) looking for me to do, I can provide for this team.
"Hopefully, it's going to be leadership, determination and hard work, and hopefully my teammates can get fueled by that."