The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made huge changes this offseason, but none of the changes have been quite as big as letting go of Darrelle Revis in favor of signing a few lower-priced players at other positions.
One of the most common reasons cited by national media members for the departure of Revis was Lovie Smith’s “Cover 2 scheme” on defense, but according to Jason Licht’s comments in an interview with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, that’s not the driving force behind the decision.
Even though La Canfora himself uses the uninformed “Cover 2 scheme” line (Smith actually ran quite a bit of Cover 1, Cover 3, and other looks during his last few years in Chicago), the interview reveals, in Licht’s own words, why he decided to move on from Revis.
- “And our roster in the past had been composed of a lot of upper class — for lack of better term — players in terms of compensation. And then a lot of the minimum types. And we felt like the middle class was ignored, and that was a part of our roster we needed to address now.”
Just one offseason removed from a Buccaneers’ team that seemed to be adding the right pieces (like Darrelle Revis, Dashon Goldson and Johnthan Banks to help a terrible defensive backfield), but was also lacking in depth, the Bucs are now making strides to build depth and build a more sustainable roster.
As La Canfora mentions, that’s been the method for Licht’s mentors, Bill Belichick and Steve Keim. Making the right moves at the right time, rather than waiting until it’s too late, is the approach Licht wanted to take with the Bucs.
So rather than risking another season where an injury or two sinks the whole roster, the Bucs now enter the draft with the ability to truly add depth at whichever positions they’d like. They have two starting quarterbacks, three starting running backs, a younger, cheaper offensive line, an additional pass rusher on both the inside and outside of the defensive line, and even a special teamer/linebacker/fullback hybrid in Dane Fletcher. And Licht admits a lot of this couldn’t have happened with Revis still on the roster.
- “…whether it’s with Darrelle or without Darelle. We still had a couple of moves that we could have made with him, but obviously we had a lot more flexibility to make roster moves with his release.”
Licht also mentioned the Lovie Smith philosophy of building from front to back on both offense and defense, something the Buccaneers did this offseason with the money free up by the release of Revis.
So while it’s always tough to come to grips with the idea of handing the best corner in the league to a contender for free, the Bucs did as well as they could using the approach they elected to adopt. They’re trying to build a more balanced, deep roster that isn’t top-heavy and prone to meltdown, as the 2013 Greg Schiano/Mark Dominik Bucs team proved to be.
There’s still work to do, and the draft will be yet another big test for a new GM and a coach with a spotty draft history, but so far the Bucs are executing Jason Licht’s plan to perfection, even if it’s not the plan most fans would have liked to see this summer.