Who Should Make a Move for Darrelle Revis?

Knox Bardeen@knoxbardeenNFC South Lead WriterMarch 11, 2014

Who Should Make a Move for Darrelle Revis?

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expected to trade or cut cornerback Darrelle Revis by Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. 

    Fox Sports analyst Alex Marvez, citing a poor fit with new head coach Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 system and a salary that’s so high it’s worrisome, tweeted the Bucs' desire to part ways with Revis:

    Again, really trying hard to trade Darrelle Revis. Hoping to strike a deal pretty quickly. Not sure of suitors yet.

    Although HC Lovie Smith has praised Revis, he doesn't need him for success in his defensive system. Combined with contract ...

    Smith has utilized a Tampa 2 defense for quite some time, a scheme that works with zone coverage in the defensive backfield. Revis is a man-cover guy who is best suited to be left alone to trail the man he’s covering wherever he goes.

    Then consider Revis’ contract is structured to function like six, $16 million deals (six years, $96 million, no guaranteed money). 

    Whenever the team decides it’s done, it can release Revis and not worry about any dead money or a future cap hit. Tampa Bay used Revis in 2013 in that scenario, but with a new head coach and general manager (Jason Licht), it looks like Revis’ stay in Tampa will be short-lived.

    To push any negotiations into overdrive, the Bucs will have to quickly pull the trigger on whatever deal they decide to make.

    According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, if Revis is on Tampa Bay’s roster on March 13, he is set to earn a $1.5 million roster bonus. And the 2014 draft pick that Tampa Bay owes the New York Jets moves from a fourth-round pick to a third-rounder.

    The phones are ringing at One Buccaneer Place, tweets Peter Schrager of Fox Sports:

    Deep breaths, Bucs fans. Deep breaths. The phones are, indeed, ringing down in Tampa at the moment. Teams want to talk re: Revis.

    Don't assume that Revis will be released just yet. I can report that TB has received inquiries from multiple potential trade partners.

    Either way, in the next day and a half, "Revis Island" will likely no longer be located in sunny Florida. 

    Where might Revis end up if another team wants to trade for the cornerback? If no one can work out a trade, which team will run to the phone to talk free agency with one of the best cover cornerbacks in the NFL?

    The four teams that follow are contenders with the need for a shutdown corner. They also have or could create cap room for Revis. 

New England Patriots

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    The New England Patriots cannot afford to pay Revis $16 million per year, at least not this season.

    According to Over the Cap, New England only has $14.8 million in cap space right now. Sure, it would probably be pretty easy to find the extra $1.2 million needed to get to Revis’ neighborhood, but that would wipe out anything else the Patriots had in mind—at least until more shuffling is done.

    Ben Volin of The Boston Globe may have found a way for the Patriots to make this work. It revolves around changing Revis’ salary into a guaranteed bonus to spread the cap hit out over many seasons.

    Converting salary money to bonus money allows a team to spread that cap money over the life of the contract, as the Cardinals did with Larry Fitzgerald last month.

    So, for example, in 2014 the Patriots could decide to turn $10 million of Revis’s $13 million into bonus money, which would be spread over the final five years of his deal at $2 million per season.

    That would put Revis’s 2014 salary cap number at $8 million — $3 million in base salary, $2 million bonus proration, $1.5 million roster bonus and $1.5 million workout bonus — which the Patriots easily could handle.

    The Patriots didn’t use their franchise tag on cornerback Aqib Talib, and according to the Boston Herald's Jeff Howe, Talib wants to get paid like one of the best corners in the NFL.

    Would it be better for the Patriots to pay top money to Talib or Revis?

    According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Revis was the second-ranked cornerback in the league last season, while Talib was No. 12. Would the value of the trade pieces New England will have to give up be worth the move from 12th to second?

San Francisco 49ers

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    If there is one team with the firepower to pull off a trade for Revis, it’s the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers have at least 11 picks in the upcoming 2014 draft in May and could be awarded a compensatory pick to boot.

    With 11, possibly 12 picks to use, San Francisco is flush with draft picks that could be traded in a Revis deal, tweets Bleacher Report's Matt Miller: " have more draft picks than they can realistically add to the team, so trading for Revis could work... if there were no salary cap."

    That pesky salary cap gets in the way of some of the best deals.

    According to Over the Cap, San Francisco has just $10.6 million of cap space right now. There would have to be some major restructuring going on to make a Revis trade work.

    Sometimes the best move is to restructure, especially when it’s a special player who last year during the time leading up to free agency thought he could help the 49ers win a Super Bowl.

    Revis told the “Real Rob Report” that adding him to the 49ers roster “would just be an addition to help them win that (Lombardi) trophy.” The situation for the 49ers and Revis hasn’t changed much in 12 months. San Francisco is still good—close to a trip to the Super Bowl—and Revis is on the trading block.

    Tarell Brown, who started last season for the 49ers, is a free agent. He was the 25th-ranked cornerback in the league in 2013, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Carlos Rogers, San Francisco’s other starting corner from 2013, was released on March 10 to create some cap space. Rogers was ranked 30th by PFF.

    As ESPN's Josina Anderson tweeted: "Source: The San Francisco 49ers will indeed cut CB Carlos Rogers allowing him to test the market."

    There’s definitely a cornerback need in San Francisco.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    Eliot Shorr-Parks, who covers all things pro sports in Philadelphia for NJ.com, tweeted that cornerback is a position of need for the Philadelphia Eagles: " r looking hard for a CB RT : Short of a trade in next two days, Buccaneers are expected to release CB Darrelle Revis."

    Revis is the best cover corner on the market (actually, on the trading block right now) at this current time. And the Eagles finished dead last in the NFL last season after allowing 4,636 yards through the air and 290 per game.

    Any conversation about positional needs must start with the Philadelphia secondary. And you don’t have to be a great defensive mind to know Revis makes sense.

    Running back LeSean McCoy, while in New York City during the week leading up to the Super Bowl, told SiruisXM Mad Dog Sports Radio, per Bobby Bonett, that he’d prefer Revis to Richard Sherman.

    "I would take Darrelle Revis, he’s better. If you watch Darrelle Revis’ tape, and you take Sherman, it’s not even close."

    Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are the starters on the outside. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) has Williams ranked 43rd and Fletcher 46th. Brandon Boykin, Philadelphia’s third corner, is ranked 73rd.

    Revis makes a ton of sense for Philadelphia, and the Eagles have $24.9 million in cap space, according to Over the Cap. While that may not seem like enough to just shell out $16 million one day prior to free agency officially set to begin, being mired in mediocrity in the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants hasn’t been fun either.

    Sure, the Eagles made the playoffs last season, but that trip was more a result of playing in a bad division, not that Philadelphia was a great option. Adding Revis would make the Eagles the NFC East front-runners right now—period.

    It may be a trade before Wednesday, or the Eagles could wait to see if Tampa Bay has to cut Revis and then make a play. But you better believe Revis would look good in an Eagles uniform.

    This is something Philadelphia needs to consider.

Denver Broncos

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    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    The rumors that the Denver Broncos are interested in Revis aren’t new. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk spoke of Revis being a potentially poor fit in Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 defense back in January.

    On March 1, Florio linked Denver to the Revis rumor mill. On March 5, Florio threw Denver’s name out again when speaking of Revis playing somewhere other than Tampa Bay in 2014.

    Florio isn’t the only one thinking the Broncos and Revis would make a good couple. Pro football columnist Gary Myers of the New York Daily News agrees, tweeting, "You know who really needs Revis? The Jets. Can't see Jets paying him what he wants. And too many hard feelings. My guess is Pats or Broncos."

    One of the biggest reasons Denver always seems to be linked with big-named free agents is because with 37-year-old Peyton Manning (the quarterback will turn 38 on March 24) under center, Denver’s window of opportunity is open the widest while he’s still around throwing touchdown after touchdown.

    Paul Klee of The Gazette not only asks “Why not?” but wrote that if the Broncos don’t trade for Revis, someone else will (Klee mentioned the Patriots by name). Klee also noted that general manager John Elway has a history of making big moves in free agency:

    In 2012, John Elway and the Broncos signed the biggest name in the free-agent pool, Peyton Manning.

    In 2013, Elway and the Broncos signed arguably the biggest name in the wide receiver free-agent pool, Wes Welker.

    The Broncos have some cap space to play with, according to Over the Cap. Right now, Denver is $27.1 million under the cap, and the Broncos have a need at cornerback with Champ Bailey's recent release.

    The Bailey move saved the Broncos $10 million in cap space. Trading for Revis would eat up that $10 million plus $6 million more. But Denver would be getting one of the best corners in the game, something Bailey no longer was.

    And since Revis’ contract is structured as five more one-year deals, Elway can take a flier. If it doesn’t work out, Denver can dump Revis prior to 2015.