But then, a few days later, Rollins was back on board. He agreed to a three-year, $33 million contract with a vesting option for a fourth year at $11 million.
"I see you all know by now. Gotta deal with me for three or four more years!" read a tweet on Rollins' Twitter account.
Rollins has been one of the faces of the franchise, his brash boast before the 2007 season that the Phillies were the team to beat in the NL East - instead of the defending division champion New York Mets - marking a turning point for the Phillies.
The team has gone on to win the last five division titles, with historic comebacks late in the '07 and '08 seasons, as well as a World Series championship in 2008 and the NL pennant in '09.
The three-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner earned the NL MVP in 2007 and is fourth on the team's hit list, though his production has dropped off in recent seasons.
He hit .268 with a .338 on-base percentage, 16 homers, 63 RBI and 30 stolen bases last year.
Rollins was the latest free agent shortstop to sign a multi-year contract this offseason, though he was only the second to remain with the same team from last season, along with the St. Louis Cardinals' Rafael Furcal.
Willis, whose one-year deal became official when he passed a physical, is set to fill an important need on the Phillies pitching staff. The 29-year-old will be the veteran complement to fellow left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo in the bullpen.
After his career was derailed by sudden ineffectiveness at age 26, Willis got back on track last season in Cincinnati and thrived at getting left-handed hitters out. They hit just .127 against him.