Bucs don't stop signing; McCown in, Revis out

adell@bradenton.comMarch 13, 2014 

TAMPA -- After a busy first day of free agency, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kept up their frenzied pace Wednesday, signing quarterback Josh McCown to a deal that sure makes him look like a starter and releasing Darrelle Revis.

It seemed to make everybody happy except for incumbent quarterback Mike Glennon and former Bucs GM Mark Dominik.

Glennon now appears to be a long shot to retain his starting job, and Dominik may go down for engineering one of the worst deals in the history of the Bucs franchise.

Bucs head coach Lovie Smith wanted to talk about the first four guys he signed, but he said signing McCown would not stop the team from drafting a quarterback in May.

"We want to go into the draft not being pigeonholed into taking on position. We may move up, we may move down. We're not sure yet, but this gives us some flexibility," Bucs GM Jason Licht said about the five players the team has signed since free agency started Tuesday.

In addition to signing McCown, the Bucs landed defensive end Michael Johnson, cornerback Alterraun Verner, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and tight end Brandon Myers on Tuesday, the first day team could complete deals.

"We're not simply talent collectors," Licht said. "We're finding the right fits."

Improving the pass rush is a major priority. Signing Johnson (15 sacks over the past two seasons with Cincinnati) to a five-year, $47.5 million contract, and also nabbing McDonald (5 1/2 sacks in 2013 with Super Bowl champion Seattle) addresses that need.

Myers was a productive tight end with Oakland and the New York Giants the past two seasons. Verner received a four-year, $26.5 million deal to fill the void created by the departure of Revis, regarded as one of the top players in the league at his position.

The 25-year-old Verner had a career-best five interceptions and made the Pro Bowl last season with the Tennessee Titans.

"I wouldn't say I'm here to replace Revis," Verner said. "I'm looking to try to be the very best player I can be."

McCown signed a two-year $10 million deal that could raise the figure another $5 million if he reaches certain

playing time incentives and takes the Bucs into the playoff. He gets $4.75 million the first year and $5.25 the following season.

The 34-year-old McCown is a journeyman NFL backup quarterback, but is coming off his best season last year in Chicago, where he threw 13 touchdown passes and only one interception filling in for Jay Cutler.

"We are not trying to build anything slowly. We want to put a better football team on the field next year, and in order to do that you can't stand pat," Smith said. "We knew we had to look into all areas to improve. Luckily, we had the flexibility to do that and then we had players that seemed like a perfect fit for what we wanted to do."

McCown is 16-22 as a starter. He will be competing in the NFC South with its all-star quarterbacks in New Orleans' Drew Brees, Atlanta's Matt Ryan and Cam Newton from Carolina.

McCown appeared in eight games last year. In his five starts, he went 3-2 and threw for 1,543 yards and 11 touchdowns with one interception.

"To leave Chicago, it'll be a situation where I am looking to compete to start or start," McCown recently said.

McCown is getting a lot of money for a backup and on the low end for a starter. He brings some mixed emotions to Bucs fans who don't believe Glennon is the long-term answer at quarterback. He is coming off an inconsistent rookie year that saw him struggle in the last month of the season.

There is a good chance the Bucs are going to select a quarterback in this year's NFL draft, possibly with the seventh overall pick. Bucs new head coach Lovie Smith said he wants four quarterbacks in camp, including a veteran. He has not made any statements that Glennon is the guy he believes can lead the franchise. In fact, his silence on that subject indicates otherwise.

McCown benefited a lot in Chicago from having electrifying Pro Bowl receivers Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall, who were adept at going up and getting those 50-50 balls. For Tampa Bay, his only highly touted receiver is Vincent Jackson.

The Revis release ends one of the oddest sagas in Bucs history. He was the most heralded signee last year and described as a savior when he joined Tampa after signing six individual $16 million contracts. None of the money is guaranteed, and the Bucs save $16 million in cap space by not resigning him.

"He is a good player, a very good player. We've said that from the beginning," Licht said. "But we've been able to add four, five very good players. We are not going to look in the rearview mirror, and we are excited about the future."

Revis reportedly has reached a one-year deal with the New England Patriots for $12 million.

There was speculation among some Bucs fans that the organization would retain Revis at least for a year. But when the team acquired Tennessee Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner Tuesday night, that hope vanished.

Revis follows quarterback Josh Freeman as two high-priced commodities the franchise allowed to leave without getting anything in return the past two seasons.

"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," Bucs GM Jason Licht said. "Darrelle was a true professional here in Tampa Bay and we wish him continued success in his career."

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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