FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Darrelle Revis says at least 26 teams called after he was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He chose the team whose coach he once called a “jerk.”
The New England Patriots announced Monday the signing of the three-time All-Pro cornerback who used that description of Bill Belichick in a word association game on ESPN in 2012. Revis and the coach called by many a defensive “genius” have discussed that.
“Yeah, me and Bill, we had a conversation about it and it’s in the past,” Revis said during a conference call. “We’re both moving forward and we’re excited about working together and trying to win games.”
He also spoke with Tom Brady, the quarterback he faced twice each regular season with the New York Jets when both were healthy.
“He did reach out this morning,” Revis said. “It was a great conversation, but I can’t speak on the details.”
The Patriots also announced they signed former Carolina wide receiver Brandon LaFell. He started all 16 regular-season games last season and made 49 catches for 627 yards and five touchdowns. The Panthers’ third-round draft choice in 2010 also had four catches for 24 yards in a 23-10 playoff loss to San Francisco.
The 6-foot-2 LaFell adds size to a receiving group led by 5-10 Julian Edelman and 5-11 Danny Amendola.
The Patriots have won the AFC East title in 10 of the past 11 seasons and reached the last three conference championship games. The chance to win again after a 4-12 season with Tampa Bay, more than the prospect of playing twice a year against the Jets — the team Revis spent his first six years with — attracted him.
“That was never the factor,” Revis said. “My thing is all about winning. I want to win. What better organization, the New England Patriots, to be a part of? If you look at their track record, New England has won year in and year out or been to the playoffs, had playoff berths. Right now in my career, I think this is great, to team up with Tom Brady and coach Belichick and the New England Patriots team and help them win games.”
The Patriots announced his signing four days after Revis’ business manager, John Geiger, tweeted that a contract agreement had been reached. The team did not announce details of the contract, reportedly for one year and $12 million.
Revis was released last Tuesday by the Buccaneers before he was due a $1.5 million signing bonus after his only season with them. He had been traded by the Jets while still recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He played just two games in 2012 but all 16 in 2013.
He was in Foxborough when the Buccaneers and Patriots held joint practices during training camp.
“I was rehabbing my knee but, at the same time, I got to see how New England really operates, how coach Belichick runs the organization,” Revis said. “I was very excited and you can kind of see, even during training camp when we were up here, those guys are very disciplined.”
Toward the end of last season, “I probably felt my best as a football player,” he said.
He’ll team this season with another newcomer at cornerback who also thrives in man-to-man defense.
On Saturday, the Patriots signed Brandon Browner, who spent the past three seasons with the Seahawks. Browner missed the Super Bowl while serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy and must sit out the first four regular-season games in 2014. He can participate in offseason activities, including training camp and preseason games.
“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,” Browner said during a conference call immediately after Revis spoke. “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.”
At 6-4 and 220 pounds, he has the size and physical style to play safety, but said the Patriots haven’t talked to him about that.
He played last season with one of the NFL’s star cornerbacks, Richard Sherman, but didn’t expect to return to Seattle. Now he gets to play with another standout.
“It’s going to be fun, not just with him but there are a lot of other (defensive backs) up there, very good football players,” Browner said. “Revis, he’s one of the guys I studied. … It’ll be fun to play with someone like that. I always need someone to push me, sort of like what I had with Richard Sherman and those guys.”