When it became clear that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could not trade Darrelle Revis and his release was imminent, the five-time Pro Bowl cornerback instantly became a highly coveted commodity.
“There were a lot of teams that, to be exact, it was around 26,” said Revis on a conference call Monday. “It was a long process. You have to understand, everything just happened so fast with my release from Tampa Bay and teams calling. I was surprised how many teams called and wanted to acquire me.”
All that interest notwithstanding, the Patriots pounced, signing Revis less than five hours after he had been cut. It was their first big splash in free agency this season, to be followed by the signing of former Seattle cornerback Brandon Browner.
Once cornerback Aqib Talib signed with the Denver Broncos, the Patriots wasted little time patching up the secondary. Last Wednesday, Revis agreed to a one-year, $12 million deal with a team option for a second year at $20 million. Just two days later, Browner tweeted he was joining the Patriots. According to reports, he got a three-year deal worth $17 million.
For Revis, it was an easy decision, even after spending his first six NFL seasons as a member of the archrival New York Jets.
Revis is hungry to win, plain and simple.
He already has talked with coach Bill Belichick and smoothed over any remaining hard feelings, if there were any, after he called the Patriots coach “a jerk” during a 2012 “SportsCenter” segment.
“We had a conversation about it and it’s in the past,” Revis said. “We’re both moving forward and we’re excited about working together and trying to win games.
“It’s basically about just winning, man. I weighed my options and I just wanted to win and I felt like this was the right place for me, to be a part of the Patriots organization.”
Revis also talked about his strong relationship with former Patriots cornerback Ty Law. Both are from Aliquippa, Pa.
“Ty has been a mentor through my whole life,” Revis said. “He’s a very close friend to my family.
“We had a conversation. It is not about the situation I’m in at hand, but I talk to Ty all the time — about life and football. I can’t get into details of even what me and him talk about.
“I’m just happy that he was there. He’s on my side and if I can bounce questions off of him and ask him certain things because he has a lot of experience, then that’s what I can do.”
Revis, who tore an ACL in 2012 with the Jets before being traded, played in all 16 games for Tampa Bay last season, making two interceptions to go along with 43 tackles.
“Toward the end, I probably felt my best as a football player,” Revis said. “That’s a thing where it took some time and I thank the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for everything they did to help me with my rehab throughout the course of the year.
“It was a big process to get through that and fight through it, but right now I feel great. I’m just ready to play ball.”
Browner, who has to sit out the first four games of the 2014 season without pay and will be docked an additional four weeks pay for violating the NFL’s drug policy, is looking forward to the opportunity to start fresh and put his past behind him.
“I’ll say a little, but I don’t think I want to go into the details for the simple fact that I want to keep that behind me and move on forward from that situation,” Browner said.
“What I can say is that for the last few months, my future has been in a dark place. I made a few mistakes and that’s one of the mistakes I regret. I look forward to righting my wrongs and I’m blessed at the opportunity to come play in New England and start on a good foot, so to say.”
Last season, he also dealt with a groin injury and last played Nov. 10, in a game against the Atlanta Falcons.
With cornerbacks Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan, and Kyle Arrington on the roster, and the addition of Revis, there were rumblings that Browner might move to safety. But Monday he indicated he would play a role similar to the one in Seattle.
“No, they haven’t talked to me about playing safety,” Browner said. “So far, I’m here to play cornerback. I’ll play wherever need be. I just want to play football and I’m fortunate to be playing for a team like the Pats.
“A lot of the stuff I’ll be doing on defense I did in Seattle. The only thing that changed is the terminology. I was also told that we play a lot of man-to-man, which is my strong suit. I’ll take it in stride and I can’t wait to get back out there.”