Might the Tampa Bay Buccaneers look to deal cornerback Darrelle Revis only a year after acquiring the All-Pro in a similar pre-draft trade from the New York Jets?
With the Bucs in the unusual position of being spared a potential salary cap hit by trading (or releasing) the veteran, the defensive back’s future is likely to dominate the rumor mill at One Buc Place for a second consecutive offseason.
Player Acquired by Former Regime
In order to boost a beleaguered secondary, Revis was brought in last April at a hefty price by former general manager Mark Dominik and ex-coach Greg Schiano. The deal not only cost Tampa Bay last year’s first-round selection, and a mid-round pick in 2014, but Revis was given an annual salary of $16 million, making him the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history.
To the team’s credit, the six-year contract contains no guaranteed money, hence the ease of removing “Revis Island” from the waters of Tampa Bay.
But it hardly makes sense to cut a player of Revis’ caliber, especially when there is evidence the 28-year-old’s services remain in great demand.
Although the cornerback experienced an up-and-down season in 2013 by his lofty standards, Revis bounced back nicely from an ACL tear suffered in September 2012. Taking the field for all 16 games certainly answered questions about the health of his knee, even if many believe his fifth Pro Bowl selection came largely on reputation.
Though modest gains were made by the Bucs’ defensive, it was insufficient to save the jobs of the regime who acquired the star cornerback, and questions rightfully abound if the bloated contract makes sense for new coach Lovie Smith.
Expected to implement the traditional “Tampa-2” defense, Revis’ man-on-man coverage skills are again likely to be under-utilized. In fact, the Bucs’ fan-base already grew frustrated when Schiano used Revis in a zone system, and such schemes are likely to remain unchanged under Smith.
Trade Simply Makes Sense
While a talent like Revis undoubtedly could still thrive in Tampa Bay, Lovie Smith’s history generally favors more athletic corners, including Ronde Barber and Charles Tillman, who provide the additional skills of pass rush, solid tackling, and an ability to strip the ball.
Now owed $16 million for each of the next five seasons, it will be difficult to receive equal value for the eight-year pro. Yet, acquiring a second-round pick would certainly ease the loss of the additional selection still owed the Jets.
That 2014 pick further reverts from a third-rounder to a fourth-rounder if the corner is no longer on the Bucs’ roster. Dealing — or releasing — Revis by March 14 would additionally spare the club a $1.5 million roster bonus.
Finally, removing Revis’ salary from Tampa Bay’s books could intriguingly make the team a bigger player in the forthcoming free agency market.
Affect on 2014 Draft
Lovie Smith, and hand-picked general manager Jason Licht, control Tampa Bay’s seventh-overall selection in this year’s draft. If Revis remains on the roster, do not expect the duo to choose another defensive back early, especially given the additions of cornerback Johnthan Banks (2013) and safety Mark Barron (2012) in the past two drafts.
However, if Revis is again dealt before the draft, the Bucs may consider Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State, who is widely considered the top cornerback in this year’s draft, and posted a sterling 4.42 seconds 40-yard dash time at the recent NFL Combine.
Jeff Briscoe is a freelance writer and follower of the Tampa Bay Bucs. Catch him talking football and more on The Sports Train radio show in Southwest Florida.