TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Darrelle Revis walked into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers weight room and received a round of applause from some of his new teammates.
The warm reception meant a lot to Revis.
The three-time All-Pro may have left the New York Jets feeling underappreciated, but he’s a welcome addition to a defense that ranked last in the NFL last season and is expected to help transform the Bucs into a playoff team.
And, the well-paid Revis is confident he’s up to the task.
“We’re going to make a lot of noise. Don’t worry about that,” the seventh-year pro said Monday. “‘I think this was a great move on my part to be a part of this organization.”
The star cornerback acquired from the Jets said he’s going to “do my best” to play up to expectations that come with a new six-year, $96 million contract.
He also insisted during a news conference that he holds no grudges against his old team, which was reluctant to give a player coming off surgery to repair a torn knee ligament such a commitment.
“I have nothing to prove to the New York Jets,” Revis said. “I have nothing to prove to anybody.”
Weeks of reports about the 27-year-old’s future ended Sunday when the Jets traded Revis to the Bucs in exchange for the 13th overall pick in this week’s NFL draft and another selection next year.
Generally regarded as the best cornerback in football, Revis also agreed to what he conceded is a “unique” contract that includes no guaranteed money.
“The contract will take care of itself,” he said. “I’ve just got to go out and play.”
The Buccaneers not only are banking on Revis to be physically ready to open the season in September against — yes — the Jets, but believe he’s far enough long in his recovery to reasonably expect he’ll be able to get on the field for the start of training camp this summer.
“We did our due diligence,” general manager Mark Dominik said, “or else we wouldn’t have made a deal of this magnitude.”
Revis was entering the final year of a contract that would have paid him $6 million in 2013, $10 million less than he’ll receive annually with Tampa Bay. His old contract also included a clause that would have prevented the Jets from using the franchise or transition tag on him next year.
So rather than risk the chance of losing Revis as a free agent in 2014 without receiving as much compensation as the cornerback would have commanded now, the Jets decided to trade him.
Tampa Bay, which was more than $32 million under the salary cap, was thought to be the most likely suitor.
“We felt it was one of those win-win situations for both organizations,” Dominik said.
Nevertheless, talks between the Bucs GM and new Jets general manager John Idzik dragged on for a couple of months. Negotiations heated up when Tampa Bay insisted a deal be in place a minimum of a week before the start of the draft.
The teams agreed to compensation last Thursday. Dominik then received permission to contact Revis’ agents to begin discussions on a long-term contract and eventually flew the cornerback to town for a physical on Sunday.
Revis said he met Idzik for the first time last week and that the Jets GM told him he wanted the cornerback to remain in New York.
Asked if he felt Idzik had been untruthful, Revis said: “Yeah. … I felt that type of vibe.”
At the same time, the seventh-year pro said he’s not bitter about how his stay in New York ended. He admitted he “felt some type of way” when he learned the Jets were willing to trade him, but insisted he’s not upset.
“It’s over. It happens. I’ve got to move on. It’s a new chapter in my life,” Revis said. “I don’t have a sour taste in my mouth. Not at all.”
Instead, the cornerback said he’s focused on doing everything he can to get back on the field and help his new team.
The Bucs, 7-9 a year ago, haven’t made the playoffs since 2007. They haven’t won a postseason game since winning their only Super Bowl in 2002.
Revis hardly considers himself a savior.
He said he’s joining a talented team with a playoff-caliber roster even without him, citing quarterback Josh Freeman, receiver Vincent Jackson and running back Doug Martin by name. Jackson and Martin made the Pro Bowl last season, and Freeman is coming off a year in which he became Tampa Bay’s first 4,000-yard passer.
“I can go down the list of players we have on this team. We have some great guys. That was one of the things me and my (agents) looked at to be part of this organization. We have some guys who can already play,” Revis said.
Schiano, beginning his second season, agreed.
“He doesn’t have to do it alone,” said Schiano, who coached against Revis when the cornerback was in college at Pittsburgh and Sciano was at Rutgers. “He has a good supporting cast.”
The trade also reunites Revis with his old college coach Dave Wannstedt, now the special teams coach in Tampa Bay, and defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley, who was his position coach at Pitt.
“I’m going to do my best. That’s how I work. I’m going to bring as much leadership as I can to this team,” Revis said. “Our biggest goal is to win, and there’s no better place to win than here.”
And as for beginning the next phase of his career by returning to New York to face the Jets?
“It’s going to be fun,” he said, a smile spreading across his face. “It’s Week 1. You can’t go around it, you can’t go over it.”