Imagine an NFL team:
- trading one of the best players at his position for a first-round pick and a conditional mid-round pick
- selecting the Defensive Rookie of the Year with the first-round pick
- having an opportunity to re-sign the player it traded, one year later, at a cheaper price
In the words of the great Ron Burgundy, "Boy, that escalated quickly."
And the Jets getting Revis back would be the football equivalent of the befuddled Brick Tamland stabbing a man in the heart with a trident.
The idea of Revis being one-and-done in Tampa Bay isn't new. Reports emerged in February from Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times that the team was fielding trade inquiries about Revis. The reports began long ago but really started heating up in the days before the new league year. With language like "stepping up efforts" and "really trying hard" from Fox Sports 1's Alex Marvez, the trade scenarios began to sound desperate.
Again, @TBBuccaneers really trying hard to trade Darrelle Revis. Hoping to strike a deal pretty quickly. Not sure of suitors yet— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) March 11, 2014
Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, no one wanted to give up the hefty price tag it would take to trade for Revis in addition to the hefty contract once he was acquired.
GM tells me Bucs' initial asking price was two No. 1s for Revis. Around the league, they were laughed at.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) March 11, 2014
To this point, the Buccaneers' best efforts have fallen short, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com now expects the Buccaneers to release Revis, as Revis is unwilling to take a pay cut to be traded to the Cleveland Browns—presumably the only team interested in trading for him.
The Jets couldn't begin their flirtation with Revis until such time as he is released from the team, but that hasn't stopped Revis from beginning his flirtation with the Jets. He even used "the L word":
How does Darrelle Revis feel about a Jets reunion? I'm told he would love to play for Rex & his old team again. Emphasis on "love." #nyj— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) March 12, 2014
The Jets may love the idea of having Revis back just as much as he loves the idea of being back, but the Jets probably don't love the idea at $16 million per year. It's unlikely Revis will get his old contract back with his next team, but if Revis brings his number down to $12 million a year—which would still make him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL—the price could be right for general manager John Idzik.
That's really what it comes down to. We know that Revis loves Rex Ryan and the feeling is mutual, but Idzik is still the one pulling the trigger on decisions. Big-splash signings like Revis are not his typical style. The Seahawks were not known for high-profile signings while he was in Seattle, either.
But if the Jets wanted to pony up, they would certainly get their money's worth.
There's no question that Revis' best days were in New York. There was a magic to it. With Revis as the best pure man cover corner in the NFL, paired with Ryan's defense that relies on great man coverage from its cornerbacks, it was always a perfect match.
Source: ProFootballFocus.com (Rex Ryan years highlighted)
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Revis allowed a completion on 38.7 percent of throws into his coverage from 2009 to 2012. He allowed an average of 2.1 completions for 28 yards into his coverage per game in that time and allowed a total of just six touchdowns.
The Jets defense is also in a much better place than it was when he was last a part of it. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson was just beginning to emerge when Revis tore his ACL in Week 4 of the 2012 season. Nose tackle Damon Harrison had not yet emerged. Defensive end Sheldon Richardson was not even on the team, and he won the 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Pair Revis with rookie cornerback Dee Milliner, who played very well in the final two games of the year, and the Jets could very smoothly transition into life without veteran cornerback Antonio Cromartie. There are still questions at safety and outside linebacker, but Ryan's defense has always paired dominant corners with passable safeties, and free agency has only just begun.
If Revis can put the past behind him, and if the Jets can reach a deal that works for everyone, a reunion would cap off the ultimate coup.