NFC South: Darrelle Revis

Buccaneers offseason wrap-up

May, 22, 2014
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 With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the Buccaneers' offseason moves.

Best move: Signing defensive end Michael Johnson as a free agent from Cincinnati. Johnson has posted double-digit sacks before and he should be a pass-rushing force on the outside. That’s something the Bucs lacked last season. With defensive tackle Gerald McCoy on the inside and Johnson on the outside, the pass rush should be much better. That’s going to help the entire defense, particularly the secondary.

Riskiest move: The Bucs quickly signed veteran quarterback Josh McCown and named him the starter. For a team that clearly is in a win-now mode, this is a risky move. McCown has been a backup most of his career and has made only 38 starts. He played well in relief of an injured Jay Cutler in Chicago last season. But there’s nothing in McCown’s track record to suggest that he can win consistently over the long haul. Coach Lovie Smith has history with McCown and is comfortable with the veteran quarterback. But the Bucs were in a position to get a potential franchise quarterback in the draft and they passed. Smith has gone out on a limb with McCown and second-year pro Mike Glennon is the only safety net.

Most surprising move: The Bucs had perhaps the best cornerback in football in Darrelle Revis. But one of the new regime’s first moves was to unload Revis as quickly as possible. That freed up a large chunk of salary-cap space that was used to address other positions. The Bucs did a nice job of replacing Revis with Alterraun Verner. The Bucs got Verner at a reasonable price and he’s in the prime of his career. But you still have to question the decision to part ways with a player with Revis' skills.

The bigger, the better: McCown had success with an oversized receiving corps in Chicago last year and the Bucs are trying to duplicate that. They already had 6-foot-5 receiver Vincent Jackson and they used their first two draft picks on wide receiver Mike Evans (6-4) and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (6-5). That trio is going to create some major matchup problems for opposing defensive backs.

Bucs pick Charles Sims in 3rd

May, 9, 2014
TAMPA, Fla. -- The pick: Charles Sims, running back, West Virginia.

My take: This wasn't a position of need for the Buccaneers, who already have a crowded backfield with Doug Martin, Mike James, Bobby Rainey and Jeff Demps. But the team had Sims highly rated and made the move. The Bucs have said they want a backfield rotation this year, but they could end up having to part ways with a talented back or two.

Good hands: The Bucs took Sims largely because they felt he was the best receiver among the running backs. Sims spent the first three years of his career at Houston before transferring to West Virginia. He’s been productive as a runner and a receiver.

What's next: The Bucs currently don’t have a fourth-round pick (it went to the New York Jets in last year’s trade for Darrelle Revis). They’ve done a nice job filling some needs, but there still is a glaring need at guard, where there’s no clear-cut starter on the right side and there are health concerns with left guard Carl Nicks.

Bucs sticking with cap approach

March, 19, 2014
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers changed general managers, but they haven’t changed their approach to the salary cap.

So far in free agency, Jason Licht has been using the same tactics as predecessor Mark Dominik. Licht has avoided using signing bonuses.

That was a Dominik trademark that ran contrary to what most of the rest of the league does. I don’t know if Licht is following orders from ownership or if he simply decided to follow Dominik’s blueprint.

Either way, it’s a smart approach. Signing bonuses can be dangerous because they spread out a cap hit through future years. If a player doesn’t work out, the team can end up with a big cap hit. That’s when you hear about “dead money’’ -- cap charges for players no longer on the roster.

Dominik preferred to pay big salaries in the early years of contracts and avoided back-loaded deals. Thanks to Dominik’s contract structures in the past, the Bucs have almost no dead money this year. The Bucs were in good cap shape throughout the Dominik years and Licht inherited a good cap situation.

The Bucs were able to release cornerback Darrelle Revis and his $16 million salary without a penny counting toward the salary cap. Licht’s been positioning the Bucs the same way with the contracts he’s been giving out. He has included a few roster bonuses, but no signing bonuses.

You can call this approach frugal. I call it smart. The Bucs are taking bigger cap hits early in contracts, but that means they won't get jammed up in later years.

Free-agency review: Buccaneers

March, 18, 2014
Most significant signing: The signing of former Cincinnati defensive end Michael Johnson has been the team's biggest move by far. The Bucs came into free agency looking to improve their pass rush and they accomplished that by signing Johnson. He had only 3.5 sacks last year, but had 11.5 in 2012. The hope is that Johnson can give the Bucs double-digit sacks.

Most significant loss: The beauty of this free-agency period is the Bucs didn't really have any significant free agents of their own. They did lose Dekoda Watson (Jacksonville) and Adam Hayward (Washington). Those losses took away some of their depth at linebacker. More significantly, Watson and Hayward were regulars on special teams, and the Bucs have to find players to fill their roles.

Biggest surprise: It was no surprise the Bucs released cornerback Darrelle Revis and his $16 million salary. But it was surprising that the Bucs replaced him with Alterraun Verner at such a reasonable rate (four years, $26.5 million). Verner is not on the same level as Revis, but he should fit very nicely in the Tampa 2 scheme.

What's next? The Bucs have made a lot of moves, but there is still more work to be done. That's what happens when you're coming off a 4-12 season. They need to add some speed at wide receiver and continue to solidify their offensive line.
TAMPA, Fla. -- In the final analysis, the trade for cornerback Darrelle Revis has to go down as one of the worst moves in the history of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a franchise with a long history of bad moves.

Revis was released Wednesday afternoon as the Bucs freed up $16 million by parting ways with a shutdown cornerback who wasn’t going to fit in a Cover 2 scheme. That comes less than a year after the Bucs gave up a first-round pick in last year’s draft and a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft to get Revis. Immediately after making the trade, the Bucs turned around and made Revis the highest-paid player in franchise history.

But Revis ended up having very little impact on this franchise. He wasn’t horrible, but Revis’ time with the Bucs was far from memorable. He began last season playing more Cover 2 than man-to-man coverage. As time went on, Revis and the Bucs admitted he wasn’t 100 percent healthy after knee surgery, and that’s why the team used him in zone defenses.

Revis’ fate was sealed when Lovie Smith, who has made a living coaching the Cover 2, was hired to coach the Buccaneers.

“We would like to thank Darrelle for his time and effort with our organization last year,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said. “Darrelle showed a lot of heart last year as he worked extremely hard to get himself back on the field following his knee injury sustained the previous season. We have specific ideas regarding the best way to build this defense and, while you never like to lose a good player, we believe this is in the best interests of our team moving forward. Darrelle was a true professional here in Tampa Bay and we wish him continued success in his career.”

Licht is right that Revis was a true professional. He went about his business and played well within the framework of Tampa Bay’s defense.

But Revis never did anything special -- except cost the Bucs $16 million.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will trade or release cornerback Darrelle Revis, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

I say both of those scenarios would be a mistake. Yes, the Bucs would free up $16 million in salary-cap space if Revis wasn’t on their roster, and that’s significant. But it’s not like the Bucs are desperate for cap room. They already are more than $24 million under the cap.

Parting ways with Revis would allow the Bucs to overhaul just about any area they want. But if they let Revis go, they’ll have to do something fairly significant at cornerback. They’ll probably have to sign two free-agent cornerbacks.

That’s two more than if they were to simply keep Revis, the scenario I like. Sure, the Bucs would be on the hook for the full $16 million. But they also would have one of the best cornerbacks in the league on their roster, and there's a lot to be said for that.

Take away Revis and, on paper, the Bucs aren’t as good a team as they would be with the cornerback.

Bucs need to keep Revis' star power

February, 28, 2014

Another thought just came to me as I continue to ponder the speculation that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will trade cornerback Darrelle Revis.

Any final decision on such a move would have to be approved by ownership. The Glazer brothers (Joel, Bryan and Ed) aren't like Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder, but they’re more involved than many people realize. That’s why it’s important to think about how the Glazers would feel about trading Revis.

That’s where my thought plays in. In the most simple terms, the Glazers like star power. They previously have gone out and brought in Jon Gruden and Keyshawn Johnson. They also bought the Manchester United soccer team -- one of the most popular sports franchises in the world.

The Glazers leave football decisions up to football people and coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht will have a lot to say about what -- if anything -- the Bucs do with Revis. But the Glazers also have some say, and I have a hard time picturing them wanting to trade Revis.

As far as star power goes with the Buccaneers, it pretty much starts (and stops) with Revis. With apologies to rising stars Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David, Revis is the only household name on the Buccaneers.

This is a franchise that needs household names because it has struggled to fill Raymond James Stadium in recent years. The Glazers have dispelled the myth that they don’t spend enough money on players in the last couple of years and Revis, who is scheduled to make $16 million this year, is a big part of that.

If the Bucs trade Revis, the old complaints about the Glazers being cheap would resurface and the team would lose its most recognizable face.

The Glazers can’t afford to let either of those things happen.

Bucs question: A run at Greg Hardy?

February, 8, 2014
Saturday’s mailbag question of the day comes from Frank in Dalton, Ga. He asks if I think the Bucs will make a run at Carolina’s Greg Hardy.

The need at defensive end is significant and Hardy’s a rare talent who is in his prime. Adding someone like him could be all it takes to make Tampa Bay’s defense dominant.

But I think it’s a long shot that you’ll see Hardy land in Tampa Bay. First off, I think the Panthers will do their best to try to keep him. Second, this isn’t like last year when the Bucs had a ton of salary-cap room and went out and got Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson.

The Bucs are in decent cap shape (right now, they’re about $10 million under the projected cap), but that’s not nearly the type of cap space they had last year. Hardy would eat up virtually all the cap space and the Bucs have other important needs that need to be addressed.

I do think the Bucs will add a defensive end in free agency or the draft, but I don’t see Hardy ending up with them.

Darrelle Revis drawing respect

January, 31, 2014
TAMPA, Fla. -- Although his season is long over, Thursday turned out to be a big day for Tampa Bay cornerback Darrelle Revis.

First, he was named Comeback Player of the Year by The Sporting News. Then, he drew some words of praise from Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman.

Let’s start with the Comeback Player of the Year award. Revis suffered a torn ACL early in the 2012 season while playing for the New York Jets. He was traded to the Bucs in the 2013 offseason. Although Revis said several times that he wasn’t completely recovered from the knee surgery, he turned in a solid season and earned the award. Revis has said he’s looking forward to an even better 2014 season because he believes the knee will be completely healed.

As impressive as the award might be, the praise from Sherman might be even more noteworthy. That’s mostly because Sherman doesn’t praise other players very often. Last year, Sherman said that he -- and not Revis -- was the best cornerback in the game. That set off a Twitter war between the two.

But, at Thursday’s Super Bowl media session, Sherman said his issues with Revis were overblown by the media.

"I think one of those things, just like a lot of other things, is a lot of media fabrication more than anything," Sherman said." People make it more of a big deal than it really is. Guys have conversations off the field and are good friends. People would be surprised. They think they're really mortal enemies, and it's really not like that.

"We've had a few conversations. He's a great guy and we squashed all the nonsense. I think every one of them out there is going to say that they're the best, and that's the way you've got to play the position."
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t been a team known for trash talking since the days of Warren Sapp and Keyshawn Johnson.

That is not likely to change now that Lovie Smith has taken over as head coach. Smith’s philosophy on trash talking is best summarized by one incident that took place when he was coaching the Chicago Bears.

Chicago receiver Brandon Marshall made some noise about how the Green Bay Packers couldn’t cover him one-on-one. Smith’s reaction came in one concise sentence.

“Talking doesn’t get a lot done," Smith said at the time.

It shouldn’t be hard for Smith’s philosophy to be adapted by the Bucs. In recent years, they haven’t been big talkers. Guys like Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson play with a swagger. They also can be quite engaging with the media, but they usually stop well short of anything that would qualify as trash talk.

NFLN survey/popular coach: Buccaneers

January, 28, 2014
TAMPA, Fla. -- The NFL Nation survey asked 320 players around the league which coach they would most like to play for.

Seattle’s Pete Carroll was the winner at 22.5 percent. I’m pretty sure former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano came in at 0.0. Schiano was known for being very stern and detail-oriented. Since his firing, cornerback Darrelle Revis has said Schiano’s style created a lot of tension, and players didn’t enjoy coming to work. I’m sure we’ll hear similar tales from other members of the Bucs when they start minicamp and the offseason program.

But the good news is new coach Lovie Smith is viewed as being a lot more player-friendly than Schiano. Smith has high expectations for his players, but he also was known for giving his team some freedom when he was the coach of the Chicago Bears.

NFLN survey/Super Bowl player: Bucs

January, 22, 2014
In our NFL Nation survey, we asked players around the league to name the player they would most like to see in the Super Bowl.

Of course, we’re talking about prominent players who haven’t been to the Super Bowl. Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson ended up winning with 18.4 percent of the vote, and Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez was second with 17.5 percent.

No members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were among the top six vote getters. But let’s use our imagination to have a little fun. Which Buccaneer would you most like to see in the Super Bowl?

I’ll go with cornerback Darrelle Revis. He has been in the NFL for seven seasons and is considered by many to be one of the best in the league at his position. He has received just about every accolade there is.

The only thing missing from Revis’ résumé is a Super Bowl appearance.

Looking at playing time: Defense

January, 17, 2014
TAMPA, Fla. -- We previously showed you the playing time for all of Tampa Bay's offensive players. Now, it's time to do the same for the defense.

The Buccaneers had 1,059 defensive plays. Here's the breakdown of the number of plays each defensive player participated in, followed by my quick take.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Gerald McCoy 962, Adrian Clayborn 933, Akeem Spence 694, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim 602, William Gholston 312, Da'Quan Bowers 206, Gary Gibson 164, Derek Landri 123, Steven Means 77, Trevor Scott 54.

Quick take: Most teams rotate their defensive linemen to keep them fresh. But the Bucs didn't do that with McCoy and Clayborn. The theory behind that was that, even when a bit winded, they were substantially better than their backups. The rookie Gholston got a lot of playing time in the second half of the season.

LINEBACKERS: Lavonte David 1,022, Mason Foster 771, Dekoda Watson 257, Jonathan Casillas 197, Adam Hayward 187, Ka'Lial Glaud 6, Danny Lansanah 4.

Quick take: The Bucs played David as much as they possibly could because he might be the best player on the team. Some of Watson's snaps came at defensive end as the Bucs experimented with him at that position late in the season.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Darrelle Revis 948, Johnthan Banks 939, Mark Barron 834, Dashon Goldson 807, Leonard Johnson 691, Keith Tandy 441, Ahmad Black 146, Kelcie McCray 101, Michael Adams 86, Danny Gorrer 83.

Quick take: Even though he wasn't 100 percent as he came back from knee surgery, the Bucs still used Revis a lot.

Survey/respected player: Buccaneers

January, 16, 2014
TAMPA, Fla. -- In our NFL Nation survey, one of the questions we asked was which player in the league is respected the most. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning was the winner.

No argument on Manning. But let’s have a little fun with this and narrow the question to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

I’m seeing plenty of good candidates and I’m basing things on what guys do on and off the field. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Darrelle Revis are arguably among the league’s best at their positions. You could also make a case for wide receiver Vincent Jackson. All four also are solid locker-room guys.

I don’t see a clear-cut winner here. I see at least four guys that are in the conversation. That might be better than having just one candidate.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Leslie Frazier came to speak with the media about the Buccaneers’ defense. He wound up fielding questions about the Minnesota Vikings’ offense.

It’s understandable. Frazier, Tampa Bay’s new defensive coordinator, was Minnesota’s head coach this past season and the Vikings were the landing spot for quarterback Josh Freeman after he was released by Tampa Bay. But Freeman appeared in only one game and the results were ugly.

A big part of the reason things didn’t work out for Freeman in Tampa Bay was because he repeatedly was late for meetings and team gatherings. That got him in former coach Greg Schiano’s doghouse. But Frazier said tardiness wasn’t an issue for Freeman in Minnesota

Still, Frazier had good things to say about Freeman.

“He worked as hard as he could every week to prepare and be ready to go,’’ Frazier said. “He was a pro in every sense of the word. But we made a decision to try to figure out where Christian Ponder was and also take a look at Matt Cassel because we were trying to determine and get some answers regarding our quarterback position. Josh got caught up in the shuffle. It probably wasn’t a fair situation for him. It made it difficult for him. It made it difficult for all of us when you’re trying to evaluate quarterbacks in an NFL season. That’s not a wise thing. Nothing to do with Josh. He prepared and worked as hard as he could to get on the field. It just didn’t work out.’’

When Frazier did get to talk about Tampa Bay’s defense, the most interesting thing he said was about how the team plans to use cornerback Darrelle Revis. Since the hiring of head coach Lovie Smith, there’s been some concern among fans that Revis’ talent could go to waste in Tampa 2 coverage.

But Smith has made it clear the Bucs won’t be using the Tampa 2 on every snap. Frazier echoed that and said the Bucs will play to Revis’ strengths, which would indicate a willingness to use him in man-to-man coverage.

“He’s a terrific player, without question,’’ Frazier said. “There’s always room in any system for great players. We’re going to do all we can to maximize his talents and utilize his gifts. He’s going to be one of the key guys to our success without question. We’ll do whatever we have to do to maximize his talents.’’