TAMPA, Fla. (AP) The Tampa Bay Buccaneers began to overhaul their roster on Tuesday, agreeing to contracts with Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner, defensive end Michael Johnson and two other potential new starters on the first day of free agency.
In addition to landing Verner, who had five interceptions for Tennessee last season and Johnson, who had 11 1/2 sacks for Cincinnati two years ago, the team announced Tuesday through its website that it also had reached deals with former Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and ex-New York Giants tight end Brandon Myers.
The club planned a news conference Wednesday to introduce the additions. Meanwhile, efforts to trade cornerback Darrelle Revis continue.
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Tuesday’s contracts are the first major moves for new coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht, who were hired in January following the firings of former coach Greg Schiano and GM Mark Dominik.
The Bucs finished 4-12 in 2013. One of Smith’s top priorities is improving a pass rush that’s been one of the least productive in the NFL in recent years.
Adding Johnson, who received a five-year deal, and McDonald, who had 5 1/2 sacks for the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, could help.
Verner, 25, has 11 career interceptions in four seasons. He agreed to a four-year contract and could wind up being a replacement for Revis, who was obtained in a pre-draft trade from the New York Jets last spring, a deal that cost the Bucs a first-round draft in 2013, as well as a fourth-rounder this year.
If Revis remains on Tampa Bay’s roster at 4 p.m. Wednesday, he is due a $1.5 million bonus and the 2014 pick the Bucs owe the Jets becomes a third-rounder.
That has led to speculation that Revis, who was recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee when he joined the Bucs and was given a six-year, $96 million contract, will be released if the team isn’t able to find a suitor.
Despite not being 100 percent physically, Revis appeared in all 16 games and was selected to play in the Pro Bowl last season, when he had two interceptions, a sack and two forced fumbles.