TAMPA — The Bucs failed in their attempt to land Olympic silver medal-winning sprinter and former University of Florida running back Jeff Demps.
The Patriots announced Friday that Demps signed, reportedly for three years. No financial details were announced.
Demps tweeted Friday that "it's truly an honor."
Bucs coach Greg Schiano on Wednesday acknowledged the team's interest in Demps, saying the club had been in contact with him before Demps left for London, where he earned his medal for participating on the U.S. 4x100-meter relay team.
"If he wasn't a good football player, it wouldn't matter to me," Schiano said. "But he happened to be a good football player as well."
Demps in January declared he was giving up his football career to concentrate on track. But upon returning from the Olympics, he still had NFL opportunities, evidenced by teams that called after he retained agent Daniel Rose.
The Bucs were considered a finalist for Demps, Rose said this week, while noting the number of interested teams grew throughout the week.
Any team could have drafted Demps in April, but teams likely were dissuaded by his stance on continuing his track career.
It's unclear what role Tampa Bay had envisioned for Demps, 22, whose UF experience mostly came in the backfield. He also can play receiver and return kicks and punts; the Patriots need a kick returner.
"Florida has had a track record of some pretty good football players that have come out of there,'' Patriots player personnel director Nick Caserio said.