I’ve made it as clear as possible that I don’t think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should consider trading away Darrelle Revis, and the notion that he isn’t a “fit” in Lovie Smith’s scheme is a ridiculous one, to put it as bluntly as possible. Revis is arguably the best corner in the NFL, and there’s nobody who can cover a No. 1 receiver one-on-one better than Revis. He’s a building block on the Buccaneers defense, and he’s worth the $16 million he gets per season; I have full faith that Smith will use him correctly, because great coaches put great players over their scheme preferences, which are exaggerated by some fans and analysts anyway.
That said, if Revis does end up getting placed on the trading block, then the rumors linking him to top-notch teams will start to fly around (before he was traded to the Bucs, he was linked heavily to the San Francisco 49ers). One rumor linking Revis to two elite teams has already surfaced, even though any talks about a potential trade are largely based off of speculation at this point. According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes that a “theory in league circles” states that there are teams around the league that would like to trade for Revis more than the Bucs would like to trade him, and this makes sense. Florio adds that this speculation is focused on two Super Bowl contenders that could trade for Revis in an all-in move; the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos.
While this is all speculation at this point, it’s fun to talk about stuff like this in the offseason. Conventional wisdom states that neither the Patriots nor the Broncos will trade for him, but it’s always interesting to play devil’s advocate. So in the spirit of both conventional wisdom and the devil’s advocate approach, I have decided to do a point/counterpoint piece on the chances of Darrelle Revis joining the Patriots or Broncos.
New England Patriots
Bill Belichick and the Patriots seem to have a very high amount of respect for Revis, and that’s not surprising given the sheer amount of success he had in the AFC East while with the New York Jets. Not only did he have the ability to shut down Randy Moss, but he could also shut down Wes Welker one-on-one in the slot, which is never easy to do. With Aqib Talib set to hit free agency this offseason, the Patriots could decide to go all-in for Revis as their No. 1 CB. Although Talib is a talented player and a true No. 1 CB in his own right, he isn’t a shutdown corner and cannot lock down No. 1 receivers with downfield speed. Revis can lock down anyone, and he also has less injury and character red flags than Talib. That’s important, because it re-enforces the idea that Revis is the more reliable player in all facets.
With Revis, Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia would be able to take the opposition’s best player with just one player of their own, and it’s clear that Belichick’s favorite strategy is to try and take away the opposition’s best pass-catcher. That’s what he did against the New Orleans Saints in taking Jimmy Graham out of the game, and he did the same thing to T.Y. Hilton and the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs. It’s why the Patriots are one of the best teams in the league at taking away other teams’ No. 1 receivers, but the focus he places on those players also leads to the Pats struggling against No. 2 guys. With Revis, the Patriots could allow their safeties and linebackers to have a little bit more leeway to blitz, and that can allow Belichick to get more creative. Sure Revis is expensive, but I’m sure he’d be willing to take a paycut to play for an elite team, elite coach, and have top players around him like Vince Wilfork (who could also take a paycut), Jerod Mayo, and Devin McCourty. Revis could be a big part of a huge Super Bowl push, and the Patriots have surprised us in the past.
The road the SB in the AFC for the Patriots goes through Denver, and getting a No. 1 guy like Revis would greatly aid them in their quest to stifle the “Four Horsemen”.
I don’t care if his deal isn’t guaranteed and that he can be cut after any season; $16 million is $16 million. It’s simply money that the Patriots cannot afford to give right now, as they don’t have $16 million in cap space right now and that’s with Aqib Talib, Julian Edelman, and LeGarrette Blount set to hit free agency. Talib isn’t as good as Revis, but he sure as heck is no slouch either. Even if he is injury-prone, only the most paranoid person would be worried about him responding poorly to a multi-year deal; he’s looked nothing but determined during his time in Foxboro and winning is motivation enough. Talib wouldn’t even cost $8 million per year, meaning that he wouldn’t even make half as much as Revis. Is Talib only half as good as Revis is? Of course not. If you spend that kind of money on Revis, then you totally constrain your cap space to the point where making other upgrades is just about impossible. That puts an awful lot of pressure on having a great draft, and there’s simply no sense in going for a big-money player when you already have a very good player at the position that you could keep for a fraction of the price.
The Denver Broncos biggest weakness this past season was their pass defense, and that’s despite having Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and elite slot corner Chris Harris Jr. Champ Bailey is too old to rely on as a starter, and he’ll have to take a paycut in order to take a release. Even though the Broncos could run into cap issues this offseason with plenty of impending free agents, it’s also likely that the Broncos would be able to get Revis to accept a paycut. He could be affordable with Eric Decker and DRC set to hit free agency, as the Broncos can use the money they would have spent on DRC to go for Revis as an upgrade. Peyton Manning doesn’t have much juice left in him, and the biggest thing keeping the Broncos from winning it all is the lack of a great secondary; adding Revis would immediately give them an elite group.
On what planet does it make sense for the Broncos to go after Darrelle Revis? Not only do the Broncos lack the cap flexibility to sign him, but they don’t need a shutdown corner to be successful anyway. The New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, and San Francisco 49ers are the other elite teams in the league, and none of those teams have a standout No. 1 receiver; they just have a bunch of solid guys. So instead of going for Revis and burning all that cash (as well as a very high draft pick), the Broncos should just focus on keeping DRC and then maybe adding another solid CB to the mix. With a healthy secondary, the Broncos have enough power to stop the good-but-not-great passing attacks that will stand in their way. But more importantly, trading for Revis isn’t economically feasible, especially since DRC will also make Talib money; it’s essentially the same financial argument as the one for the Patriots.