TAMPA — Darrelle Revis is expected to be released by the Bucs after efforts to trade him remained unsuccessful Monday.
Though new Bucs coach Lovie Smith was intrigued by the possibility of keeping Revis, his $16 million contract and terms of the trade make that unappealing to a team coming off a 4-12 record with many needs.
If Revis, who turns 29 in July, is still on the roster by 4 p.m. Wednesday, the Bucs owe him a $1.5 million bonus and have to send a 2014 third-round pick to the Jets to complete the trade.
Tampa Bay also traded the 13th overall pick in the 2013 draft for the Pro Bowl cornerback, who was recovering from a torn left ACL at the time of the deal.
The Bucs, who have been unable to restructure Revis' contract, would gain $16 million on the salary cap to use on free agents while having to send the Jets only a fourth-round pick.
Last April when then-general manager Mark Dominik made the trade for the Bucs, Revis was recovering from surgery that forced him to miss nearly all of the 2012 season with the Jets.
Revis did not see action until the first game of the regular season but put together a performance that earned his fifth trip to the Pro Bowl. Revis had 50 tackles, two interceptions, one sack and two forced fumbles.
"These players are hard to find,'' Dominik said Monday on Sirius NFL Radio. "I would venture to tell you and Darrelle would tell you that last season wasn't his best performance and yet he still made the Pro Bowl again. I think coming off that knee and playing at the level he did and where he was headed to, that's why we had confidence because we felt like he was going to come off that knee and was going to play at a high level and I felt he was only going to get better.
"When a new regime comes in, they have a different philosophy and they have a different way to look at things, and obviously Darrelle Revis is kind of in flux right now.''
Smith, who plans to use the Cover 2 defense, has had success using cornerbacks with lesser pedigree than Revis, who thrives in man-to-man coverage.
Should the Bucs part with Revis by Thursday, one likely candidate to replace him is Bears free agent cornerback Charles Tillman.
Several teams, including the 49ers, Patriots and Broncos, might have an interest in acquiring Revis, but likely not at $16 million per year.
McCown a target?
Quarterback Josh McCown said Monday that for him to leave the Bears as a free agent, it would only be for a chance to at least compete for a starting job, with the right coaching staff and a system he could thrive in.
The Bucs' response? Check, check and check.
Smith is trying to reunite with McCown, 34, who could be among the Bucs' biggest targets when the free agent signing period begins at 4 today. According to multiple reports, the Jets, Texans and Bears are also making a strong push to sign McCown, a career backup coming off his best year as a spot starter.
In Tampa Bay, McCown would have every chance to compete with Mike Glennon for the starting job.
"I'm not going to get into who I talked to," McCown said on ESPN Monday. "There is a window and there is legal tampering, but there are some shades on that window so I don't know out of respect to those teams if we want to get into that right now. We've talked to four teams. There have been good discussions. To leave Chicago, it will be a situation where I'm looking to compete to start or to start and be able to kind of grow more as a player. The only way as a player that you can do that is on the field."
The Bucs, who as of Monday were about $24 million under the projected $133 million salary cap, have said they plan to be aggressive in free agency.
One high-profile free agent on their wish list is Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson, 27.
And after parting with guard Davin Joseph, saving $6 million on the cap, more changes could be imminent on the offensive line. The Baltimore Sun reported that the Bucs are making a push to reach an agreement with Bengals offensive tackle Anthony Collins that could pay $7 million per year.
Another option might be Rams guard/tackle Rodger Safford, who also is being pursued by the Raiders.
The Bucs also want to upgrade team speed and special teams. The Bucs are among five teams interested in Chiefs receiver Dexter McCluster, from Largo High, who played for Bucs special teams coach Kevin O'Dea last season. Former Bears kick returner Devin Hester is a possibility.
If the Bucs sign McCown, they might still draft a quarterback. They now have Glennon and Mike Kafka.
"He'd be a fit because he'd push Glennon," said former Bucs quarterback and NBC pro football analyst Shaun King, who played with McCown with the Cardinals.