TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes said that he feels “disrespected” that the Bucs’ coaching staff asked him to shadow top wide receivers Antonio Brown and Julio Jones this year for what he believes was too low of a salary and that he almost didn’t play in the final game of the season.
Grimes, 35, said on wife Miko’s #IHeartMikoPodcast that, when the Bucs asked him to shadow Brown in Week 3 (Grimes missed the first two games of the season to injury), “I just couldn’t agree with it. It’s just disrespectful. People who follow receivers all the time, unless they’re on a rookie contract or trying to get paid, are usually making $13-15 million a year.”
Grimes earned a $7 million base salary in 2018, (his contract included $3 million in incentives), with 25 cornerbacks averaging more per year. He preferred playing a zone-style defense and believed the team was asking him to do too much for what he deemed was too little pay.
“That’s not right. It’s disrespectful,” Grimes said. “It just f—ed up my whole vibe for the whole year, to be completely honest. It’s just disrespectful. I just felt disrespected.”
Grimes also revealed that he still doesn’t know why he was benched in the second half in a 48-10 blowout against the Chicago Bears in Week 4. Secondary coach Jon Hoke was the one who told him he was benched, but when Grimes went to then-defensive coordinator Mike Smith (Smith was fired after Week 6), Smith told him he didn’t know who benched him.
“I still don’t know. They said it was because I was on my phone at halftime — which was true because I’m on my phone every game of my career,” Grimes said. “I would say 50-60, no, probably 70 percent of the locker room is listening to their phone, looking at something on their phone. It’s f—ing 2019. Phones are everywhere, bro. That’s ridiculous.”
Miko Grimes added, “I think it was some bulls—. It think it was some payback for you not wanting to shadow Antonio Brown.”
Then-head coach Dirk Koetter, who was fired Monday, said at the time that it was a “coaches’ decision” and that they “wanted to get [backup] Ryan Smith in there.”
Miko said Brent’s agent told them that several teams were interested in trading for him before the October trade deadline but that Bucs general manager Jason Licht wouldn’t consider it because, at 3-4, it would give the impression that they were giving up on the season.
“This team — not the players, but this coaching staff — took your spirit from you,” Miko Grimes said.
Brent Grimes said that although he had come in with a positive mindset, “It was gone. The whole year. From training camp — it was gone.”
Grimes revealed that he was feuding with Hoke all year for the way Hoke was asking him to play the run. Grimes said he was always taught that his job when playing running backs who bounced to the outside was to make them cut inside and another player would be responsible for tackling. Hoke was now telling him to run straight to the edge.
“I was done. That whole year, bro, I just really was like [done],” said Grimes, who also said that opponents were literally laughing at them, telling them exactly what they were going to do on defense. Miko Grimes said that she had to persuade Brent to play in Week 17 in the event he decided to retire after and that it took Hoke having to apologize.
“Before that week, you wanted to pull an Antonio Brown [Brown was inactive against the Bengals],” Miko Grimes said. “You told the coaches that you were not playing Sunday. You [were] like, ‘F— this, I’m not playing. I’m sick of y’all. You benched me twice for some dumb s—.”
Brent Grimes said he would be open to playing for a contender in 2019.
He said, “I would think about it.”