Per Adam Schefter, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released fourth-year cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III on Tuesday, officially marking the end of an up-and-down era for the former first-round pick out of Florida.
Buccaneers released former first-round pick Vernon Hargreaves, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 12, 2019
Hargreaves was benched during Sunday’s win over what seemed to be a lack of effort on a 55-yard catch and run by Cardinals receiver Andy Isabella.
Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles both thought they had something in Hargreaves, evidenced by the team’s decision to pick up his fifth-year rookie option in April of 2019. But ineffective play and a lack of attention to detail have derailed his career under a new coaching staff.
Hargreaves was chosen with the 11th-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He struggled quite a bit in the first year and a half, which prompted the Bucs to make him their slot corner in 2017. His play began to pick up, but he was placed on IR in Week 10 of the 2017 season and only had about two quarters of play under his belt before going on IR in Week 1 of the 2018 season.
A pick-six in Week 1 and a game-winning tackle in Week 2 gave way to the idea that Hargreaves was beginning to play to his potential, but he has fallen off a cliff since, allowing a 69.2% completion percentage that has yielded 578 yards and four touchdowns to go with the one interception. Quarterbacks have a 110.9 rating when throwing toward Hargreaves in 2019.
“After thoughtful consideration over the past few weeks, Bruce and I came to the conclusion that we needed to make this change,” said Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht. “Decisions such as this are always difficult, but I felt it was in the best interest of our team to part ways with Vernon at this time and allow him to explore other opportunities. We are disappointed that it did not work out here for Vernon and we wish him continued success moving forward.”
His release also lends more credence than ever to the fact that Tampa Bay’s 2016 draft class was an abject disaster. Out of Hargreaves, Noah Spence, Roberto Aguayo, Caleb Benenoch, Devante Bond, and Dan Vitale - only Ryan Smith remains.
Hargreaves played in 35 games over his four seasons in Tampa Bay, making 33 starts, recording 164 tackles (four for loss), 19 passes defensed, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one defensive touchdown.