By Tom Krasniqi
The Buccaneers had to make sure they had a table that was big enough on their stage to show them off. After all, they were unveiling four of their newest players during a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
The team introduced defensive end Michael Johnson, cornerback Alterraun Verner, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and tight end Brandon Myers. The Lovie Smith/Jason Licht Era is off to a smashing start. And the players are all in.
"I'm excited to see what we can do," Johnson said. "I know we can do great things."
Johnson was the team's biggest free agent catch. He agreed to a 5 year deal worth more than $43 million. Smith says Johnson will play right defensive end.
Verner was a Pro Bowler this season and comes over from the Titans after agreeing to a 4 year deal. Darrelle Revis was released earlier in the day so Verner knows he's on the spot. Verner says he's not thinking about replacing Revis and believes he can be a "difference-maker."
McDonald just won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks and now he sees an opportunity for more playing time in Tampa. McDonald had 5.5 sacks last season in Seattle. Smith says McDonald will play next to Pro Bowl DT Gerald McCoy and will move him around the formation.
Myers is a pass catching TE who agreed on a 2 year deal. He will team with Tim Wright to make a solid pass catching duo.
The new regime knew they had plenty of work to do in order to clean up a team that was 4-12 this past season. Smith and Licht knew changes had to be made.
"This is a major step we've taken with these four gentlemen here," Smith said. "But we're not done."
Four players are signed, sealed and delivered. More signings are expected. You may need a scorecard to find out who's who. Quarterback Josh McCown agreed to a 2-year deal worth around $10 million earlier in the day. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith, offensive tackle Anthony Collins, cornerback Charles Tillman, wideout Ted Ginn and wideout Emmanuel Sanders are visiting with the team.
Bucs GM Jason Licht says they are "aggressive and proactive" and found "the right fits" in free agency because they team has only five draft picks. But make no mistake, the team has a systematic approach to free agency.
"We're not talent collectors," Licht explained.
So far, the Bucs are proving to win the press conference in March. They hope it translates to on field success come September.
To listen to the entire press conference, click below: