Darrelle Revis Trade: Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets Pull off Rare Win-Win Trade with Superstar CB
After months of speculation, ex-New York Jets’ cornerback Darrelle Revis was finally traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers today. Both clubs confirmed the deal quickly after Revis’ agent confirmed that his client and the Buccaneers had agreed on a new contract. A contract that proved to be startling for many reasons.
Not only is Revis receiving $96 million over the next six seasons, a historic sum for a defensive back, the Buccaneers owe him no guaranteed money. Revis has an injury guarantee, but if he was cut today, the Buccaneers wouldn’t have to suffer through cap penalties. That may seem like an insult to the Jets, who couldn’t even fathom paying Revis that kind of money, but in reality it wouldn’t have mattered because the Jets could never have afforded to give Revis $16 million per season.
For financial reasons and because Revis is coming off of a torn ACL, the Jets did an excellent job to get a top-15 pick in this year’s draft and a conditional pick in next year’s. If Revis is still on the Buccaneers’ roster on the fourth day of the 2014 season, the Buccaneers will owe the Jets a third round pick. If he is released before then, the Jets will only receive a fourth round pick. Those picks are invaluable to the Jets, as are the financial benefits, but ending this saga and sending away a player who is an impending distraction from day-to-day allows the Jets to move on and focus fully on their future.
Three teams have two first round picks in this draft, but both of the Jets’ first round picks come before the other two teams even pick once. That means that the Jets are in the perfect position to command the trade market and make moves to better their roster. This draft doesn’t support the idea of trading up for anyone in particular, but because of the draft’s depth, they can still expect to pick up two potential superstars on the professional level with their current picks, the ninth and 13th overall.
How the Jets manage those picks could tell us a lot about the future of Rex Ryan. They have the flexibility to grab a quarterback and begin a new regime completely, but they could also give Ryan two defensive studs such as Dee Milliner and Barkevious Mingo. Mingo and Milliner would be perfect fits in Ryan’s defense, although it must also be noted that the Jets didn’t really struggle without Revis last season, so they may look to keep their cornerback depth chart in tact. In that instance, the Jets could trade back to pick up further picks that will help replenish more levels of the roster.
The Jets have a huge amount of flexibility and plenty of avenues to add young, affordable talents to their roster and improve all-around. Letting go of an injured superstar entering the second half of his career was the right decision for them at this point.
Conversely, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a franchise on the rise that has built their current roster on bold moves. With Josh Freeman’s flaws in the offense masked for the most part by a very talented supporting cast, defensively the Buccaneers are just trying to keep some kind of pace with the rest of the NFC South. Playing against the passing talents of the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons every year, with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers awaiting in any potential playoff run, having top quality defensive backs is a must. Revis won’t fix all of their problems, but the Buccaneers had built their roster anticipating his arrival this off-season and he will be a major impact player if he returns to pre-injury form.
Against the Carolina Panthers, Revis will be able to make a huge difference covering veteran receiver Steve Smith and forcing the ball elsewhere. Against the Atlanta Falcons, Revis will be tasked with handling Julio Jones, arguably the second best receiver in the NFL. Should a playoff run develop, then his talents would be extended to covering Percy Harvin in the slot and Michael Crabtree’s YAC ability all over the field. However, against the Saints, Revis’ value won’t be as large. The Saints don’t focus on one specific receiver or one area of the field with their offense. Drew Brees is very much an equal opportunity employer when it comes to handing out his pass attempts and the Saints have a plethora of talented pass-catchers surpassed their starting unit.
That said, Revis’ impact on the field surpasses his own individual assignment.
With a fully healthy Revis, the Jets are able to manipulate their coverage to create a squashed field for the rest of their secondary and linebackers dropping into space. When they don’t need to worry about giving any help to Revis, they can ignore one section of the field and outnumber receivers elsewhere. Defensive backs will always prefer to play in a smaller area so they are less susceptible to double moves, quick cuts or flat out speed. By forcing quarterbacks to throw into(and through) tighter windows, the chances of sustained drives slips with costly incompletions, while there will always be more bodies around to turn tipped passes into interceptions.
The Buccaneers prepared for this when they added former San Francisco 49ers’ safety Dashon Goldson to youngster Mark Barron at the safety position. Neither Barron or Goldson have outstanding range, but both are intimidating hitters who thrive in tight and are capable of intimidating receivers with their physical play. When they don’t have to worry about drifting deep to aid receivers down the sideline or sprinting to a spot to disguise coverage, they should be at their very best as a combination. In a typical secondary setup, they would lack speed and be exposed, but in this scenario they should at least be given the best opportunity to succeed.
Furthermore, the Buccaneers also have the cap space to handle Revis’ high cost, at least they do in the short-term, and as already mentioned, they won’t have to pay him anything should they decide to release him in the future.
In what was developing into an ugly situation for all those involved, an outcome was reached that should benefit all those involved.
You can follow Cian Fahey on twitter @Cianaf