Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis figures to be a hot commodity this offseason.
Upon first outlook, Revis and the 49ers look like a perfect fit. The 49ers backfield struggled in the playoffs and Super Bowl, and Revis is arguably the most dominant cornerback in the NFL today. Most teams would want his services if they could make it work somehow.
San Francisco appears to have all the pieces to make it happen. They hold 15 picks in the upcoming draft and certainly do not intend to use them on 15 different players. They also released kicker David Akers and made the forthcoming Alex Smith trade with Kansas City to free up some salary cap space.
Revis also reiterated that playing in San Francisco would be "awesome," recognizing the 49ers' legitimate chances of returning to the Super Bowl in 2014 (via nfl.com). Revis probably could help San Francisco win a Super Bowl.
Are his services worth it however?
First, there is the nature of Revis' contract with the Jets. He will be a free agent after this upcoming season and he has already held out twice in his NFL career (mercurynews.com). If the 49ers make the trade, Revis will be looking to get paid and soon. Given other top cornerbacks' salaries, it is highly unlikely that Revis would be looking to take a less expensive contract to play for a championship-caliber team.
In spite of the recent Smith trade and Akers release, and the possibility of other 49ers' departures such as tight-end Delanie Walker and linebacker Parys Haralson, San Francisco still has to be mindful of its salary cap. Not only are they looking to re-sign Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson to a new contract, but they also have to keep in mind the future contracts of stars like quarterback Colin Kaepernick and linebacker Aldon Smith. Both will be looking to cash in in the very near future and the 49ers will almost certainly reward their efforts. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree is also due a nice paycheck in 2015 (spotrac.com).
Niners Nation columnist David Fucillo agrees that while Revis would be a scary addition to San Francisco, the 49ers would be best suited to improve elsewhere and consider future options instead. He stated,
The 49ers are eventually going to need to consider a variety of players for contract extensions. Michael Crabtree, Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati are all eligible for extensions right now. Next year, Colin Kaepernick, Aldon Smith, Kendall Hunter and Chris Culliver are all eligible for extensions. The 49ers may not re-sign all of these players, but adding players like Revis with the intent to make them more than one-year rentals puts the 49ers in a tough position with the rest of the roster. (ninersnation.com)
Let us assume, however, that San Francisco wants Revis regardless of the contract and salary cap issues. At best, they would be able to get him for the remaining one year on his contract and Revis would fill the role of a "rental" player in 2013 much like they did with Deion Sanders in 1994. Then they could plausibly renew the contracts of most of their impact players.
Yet even that scenario is difficult to imagine. The Jets are in a great position to get the best package deal out there and command some pretty high draft picks in return. If the 49ers would be willing to ship a number of those picks for Revis, they would be missing out on an opportunity to bolster some glaring needs in the early rounds of the draft.
While the 49ers secondary struggled in the playoffs, their defensive line has to bear some of the blame for not being as effective at rushing the quarterback as they were earlier in the regular season.
San Francisco would be better off using those picks to build around its solid core, either trading up in the draft or doing their scouting homework and drafting well. Remember, Justin Smith and Frank Gore are not getting any younger. The 49ers need receiving help, too.
San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami agrees. He states,
It’s about allocation. The 49ers have the picks to tempt the Jets, but the 49ers aren’t in the business of tossing away multiple premium picks and/or young players for a player who they probably wouldn’t sign long-term, even if he is a big-name CB and the world loves big-name CBs. (mercurynews.com)
Then of course there is the big elephant in the room: Darrelle Revis' torn ACL injury that ended his season.
There is no guarantee that Revis will return to the caliber of play he enjoyed before the injury. Even for a rental player, the 49ers would be taking a big gamble on someone who has not been on the field since being carted off in Week 3 against the Miami Dolphins. Again, money and resources spent elsewhere seem to be the logical option.
One of the latest reports, indicated by ESPN's Chris Mortensen, stated that San Francisco is extremely concerned about Revis' effectiveness combined with the hefty contract the 49ers would likely have to give him.
Regardless of the 49ers' intentions, they have released very little information regarding their stance on the Revis trade. They could potentially be drumming up interest to drive up his price tag for some other team to go after him. It is difficult to assume at this point.
Earlier this week, I wrote an article summarizing San Francisco's prospects for the trade. My conclusion was that the trade, if it happened, would be a high-risk, high-reward situation for the 49ers. Considering all the factors, including the contract, salary cap, draft picks and San Francisco's future, it is the same situation.
If the 49ers want to win a Super Bowl in 2014, the Revis addition would probably help. Yet if that happens, San Francisco would be gambling away much of its future.
If the 49ers were more intent on building a dynasty, much like the years they enjoyed in the 1980s and 90s, taking a pass on Revis would be the most logical bet.