Source: The #Bucs are releasing CB Alterraun Verner today. The future of Vernon Hargreaves helps explain this one for the former FA pickup— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 23, 2017
The Patriots were one of the teams in the running for Verner’s services in the 2014 offseason, but ultimately signed a 4-year, $26.5 million deal with the Buccaneers. That signing allowed the Buccaneers to release CB Darrelle Revis, who subsequently signed with the Patriots and won a Super Bowl.
Before signing with the Buccaneers, Verner had a noteworthy comment about the type of team he wanted to play for.
“I feel more compelled to go to a team that I think can win,” Verner said on SiriusXM at the time. “I haven't had that experience for the past four years in Tennessee. Money is [a priority], but it isn't. I look at it differently. Some look at it tangibly; I look at it as more of a respect value. I would feel more obliged to go to a team that paid me $6 or $7 million and made me one of the highest-paid players on the team, than go to a team that paid me $8 or $9 million and I wasn't one of the highest-paid players on the team.”
Verner couldn’t find a team better suited for winning than the Patriots and he could actually be a perfect fit. Patriots FS Devin McCourty was actively campaigning for Verner before the 2014 season.
The Patriots risk losing CB Logan Ryan in free agency and Verner was a quality and scheme-versatile #2 cornerback for the Tennessee Titans from 2010-13. Despite three quiet seasons with the Buccaneers- he went from starter, to nickel, to fourth man on the depth chart in each subsequent season- the 28-year-old is still young enough to rebound back into his old form.
Verner is a strong run defender that struggled in the Buccaneers Tampa-2 coverage front under then-head coach Lovie Smith. The Buccaneers changed defenses in 2016 with defensive coordinator Mike Smith, but remained heavy-zone focused. Starting CBs Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves III played nearly every snap and no other cornerback saw more than 30% of the defensive snaps.
It should be noted that Verner was expected to be a perfect fit in the Buccaneers defense, so there is still a risk that he won’t succeed at his next stop- which should be known pretty early into free agency
“My agent’s been getting calls from multiple teams already,” Verner said, via ProFootballTalk. “It’s exciting to see what’s going to be happening next. It’s going to be exciting to see where I can go and hopefully contribute and put forth an effort to try to get to a Super Bowl.”
Verner could be the latest reclamation project for the Patriots and will be signed for a fraction of his 2014 free agency price. New England could sign a talented player on a bargain deal as Verner tries to reestablish his value for one final big contract.