The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won't cut Alterraun Verner despite disappointing play and a $6.75 million salary this year. Pewter Report talked to general manager Jason Licht, who "confirmed that cornerbacks Johnthan Banks and Alterraun Verner would be back in Tampa Bay in 2016.
The Bucs signed Alterraun Verner to a four-year, $25.5 million contract in 2014 after a standout final season with the Tennessee Titans in which he recorded five interceptions. But Verner's been a disappointment since then, notching just three interceptions and playing some inconsistent football throughout. He was benched for most of last season, and primarily played slot cornerback when he did get on the field. Verner actually did well in that role -- but then was once again benched toward the end of the season, for reasons unknown.
$2 million of Verner's $6.75 million salary is set to become guaranteed on March 13 of this year, days before the start of free agency. It seems like the Bucs are going to let that date pass by without cutting Verner, which does not necessarily mean he'll make the roster: cutting him before the first week of the regular season would still result in $4.75 million in salary cap and cash savings.
The Bucs seem intent on salvaging both his and Johnthan Banks' career, who had a poor third season in the NFL and has been inconsistent since being drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft. Banks played 39.5% of the defensive snaps in 2015, while Verner managed 52.5%. The Bucs shuffled their defensive backfield throughout the season, with Sterling Moore taking the most snaps at cornerback with just 64.2%. Moore is a free agent, but we expect the Bucs to try to retain him after a solid year.
"I don't want to speak in great detail for our defensive coaches but I will say this, they are excited to work with Johnthan Banks," Licht told Pewter Report. "He's a big, long guy with really great ball skills. They're excited to implement him and use his skills in this scheme."
The Bucs brought in an entirely new defensive coaching staff this year, and one of those coaches is defensive backs coach Brett Maxie, who coached Alterraun Verner to the best season of his career with the Tennessee Titans. The Bucs will hope that Maxie and secondary coach Jon Hoke can get Verner back to playing his best football.