Wow -- #Bucs just agreed to terms with Alterraun Verner.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 12, 2014
The Buccaneers don’t need Revis anymore. They don’t want Revis.
This much is obvious.
If the report by ESPN's Adam Schefter holds true, the Bucs will either trade Revis by 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday or release him. They’ll replace him with Verner, who was Pro Football Focus' (subscription required) fourth-ranked cover corner in the NFL last season behind Richard Sherman, Revis and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
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Pro Football Focus (subscription required)
Revis and Verner were both ranked very high by PFF. Verner was targeted 16 more times and had five interceptions to Revis’ two. Revis allowed a reception every 16.4 snaps where he was the primary man in coverage while Verner allowed one every 15 snaps.
The two corners seem very similar statistically.
Where the duo differs greatly is at the bank. According to Spotrac.com, Revis was going to cost Tampa Bay $16 million against its cap in 2014 alone. The remaining five years on his contract were going to total $80 million.
Verner is going to be much less expensive.
Former Titans CB Alterraun Verner is signing a four-year, $26.5 million including $14 million guaranteed with Tampa, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 12, 2014
Schefter revealed that Verner’s $26.5 million contract will be spread over four seasons. While the full details haven’t been released yet, the cost per season will be very attractive to the Bucs compared to what Revis was going to cost.
Alterraun Verner at just over $6 million per season? How is that even possible? Total steal— Larry Brown (@LBSports) March 12, 2014
There’s also another huge difference between Verner and Revis. While Revis wasn’t a good fit for new head coach Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 defense, Verner makes absolute perfect sense.
In a conversation with Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, Miller called Verner “young, aggressive and the best Cover 2 corner available (the Tampa 2 is a variation of the Cover 2).” Verner shined in 2013 playing both zone coverage and man, but he’s much more adept at playing zone, which fits Tampa Bay’s new scheme perfectly.
Verner also has the confidence and versatility to show great value in Smith’s system, as he told Adam Schein of Mad Dog Sports Radio on SiriusXM Monday.
Verner: "You're not going to get a better all-around football player in the NFL (than me)... I'm gonna cover, don't shy away from contact.."— Mad Dog Sports Radio (@MadDogRadio) March 10, 2014
“If you ask me to play inside, if you ask me to blitz, I’m a football player and I’ll do whatever it takes to win,” he said.
The 25-year-old Verner did a lot more winning than losing in 2013. Opposing quarterbacks only completed 49.4 percent of passes thrown toward him and he only gave up two touchdowns on his way to a Pro Bowl appearance last season.
As it looks right now, Verner will line up on the opposite side of second-year cornerback Johnthan Banks, with safeties Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson in the middle of the field. That’s a daunting secondary for any opposing quarterback to throw against.
Verner isn’t better than Revis, but he has considerable upside and is a better fit for Tampa Bay. Since he’s much less expensive, signing him and ridding the roster of Revis means Tampa Bay can do more in free agency.
That’s a win-win situation.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.
Knox Bardeen is the NFC South lead writer for Bleacher Report and the author of “100 Things Falcons Fans Should Know & Do Before they Die.” Be sure to follow Knox on Twitter.