Buying or Selling Potential Landing Spots for Free-Agent CB Darrelle Revis
UPDATE: Well, so much for the Darrelle Revis sweepstakes, as the 28-year-old has apparently chosen winning over money.
According to ESPN (h/t Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com), Revis has signed a one-year, $12 million contract with the New England Patriots.
However, Revis' manager denied an agreement was in place, tweeting, "As of now, nothing has been agreed to with Revis and Patriots."
A year ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded a package of picks (including a first-rounder) to the New York Jets for cornerback Darrelle Revis. Then they signed the Pro Bowler to a six-year, $96 million contract.
Luckily, none of that contract was guaranteed, as just one year later the Bucs have cut bait.
As Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com reported, on Wednesday the Buccaneers released the 28-year-old, who is a poor fit for the Cover 2 defensive scheme that is favored by new Tampa coach Lovie Smith.
Given that Revis was the top-ranked cornerback at Pro Football Focus (subscription required) last year and has five Pro Bowls on his resume, there will be no shortage of suitors for his services.
In fact, after losing cornerback Aqib Talib to the Denver Broncos, Glenn Yoder of Boston.com expects the New England Patriots to take a hard look at Revis.
The Pats could offer the seven-year veteran a chance to win, but money could be an issue. He is going to command a lot of money on the open market, and the Patriots only have about $17.5 million in cap space, according to Spotrac.
However, plenty of teams have the room to make a run at Revis. Eleven NFL teams have more than $25 million in salary-cap wiggle room as things stand now, although it's safe to say the Buccaneers won't be among the bidders.
Let's examine those teams and whether it makes sense for them to lease a winter home on Revis Island.
Cap Space: $25.5 million
It's been a long time since the Buffalo Bills were in the playoffs. Like the last century.
The Bills went 6-10 for the third straight season in 2013, but the team's struggles in Doug Marrone's first year at the helm in Buffalo can't be laid at the feet of the pass defense.
The Bills were fourth in the league in that regard last year, and the team has already added a cornerback in free agency, agreeing to terms on a four-year, $16 million deal with Corey Graham, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.
The Bills have too many other holes to fill to spend more than half their cap room on a position they don't really need.
Cap Space: $26.2 million
The Minnesota Vikings were not good against the pass in 2013.
Only the Philadelphia Eagles allowed more passing yards per game last year than the Vikings, who surrendered 287.2 yards per contest.
Given the obvious need in the secondary, it would seem that Revis would be a logical fit with the Vikes, but Ben Goessling of ESPN.com doesn't see it in the cards:
One thing I don't see happening -- and the thing I probably got more questions about today than anything else -- is Darrelle Revis coming to Minnesota. Revis is only 28, and might be the best man coverage corner in the game when he's on, but he's had lots of contract squabbles, and will probably have more interest from teams closer to a championship than the Vikings.
With that said, you can bet your lunch money that the Vikings will at least kick the tires on Revis, even if they end up settling for a lesser option.
Green Bay Packers
Cap Space: $28 million
The notion of Darrelle Revis prowling the secondary in Titletown may be appealing to cheeseheads, but there's very little chance of it happening.
As in none.
For starters, general manager Ted Thompson just doesn't shell out big money for free agents. Paying $12 million or more annually for Revis would be a major departure from how Thompson has done business with the Packers.
Add in that they just re-upped cornerback Sam Shields for $39 million over four years, and Revis isn't landing in Wisconsin.
Cap Space: $30.1 million
On its face, acquiring Revis makes a lot of sense for the Cincinnati Bengals.
They have Super Bowl aspirations and more than $30 million in cap space. They ranked in the top five in pass defense last year, but Terence Newman is 35 and Leon Hall is returning from another serious injury.
The Bengals have been a notoriously frugal franchise under Mike Brown, so ponying up the green for Revis would be a big switch in Cincinnati.
However, with defensive end Michael Johnson already out the door and tackle Anthony Collins set to follow, it's time for the Bengals to start adding some pieces instead of just subtracting.
Cap Space: $30.3 million
There hasn't been a more aggressive team in free agency over the past two seasons than the Indianapolis Colts.
Already this season, the Colts have added defensive end Arthur Jones and re-signed cornerback Vontae Davis.
It's that last deal that makes a Revis signing in Indy unlikely. The Colts tied up $39 million over four years in Davis, and investing another huge chunk of money in a cornerback could be problematic, especially with a hole to be filled at safety after Antoine Bethea signed with San Francisco.
You can't count GM Ryan Grigson out, but the odds are against it.
Cap Space: $35 million
Like the Indianapolis Colts, the Miami Dolphins have been very aggressive in free agency of late, already signing offensive tackle Branden Albert to a big deal.
They also paid Bent Grimes, who ranked second among cornerbacks behind Revis in 2013 at PFF, $8 million per year to stick around in South Florida.
However, re-signing him shouldn't preclude the Dolphins from making a run at Revis, according to Omar Kelly of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "New Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey needs to put a six-year, $68 million offer on the table that guarantees Revis $33 million, and cross his fingers that if Revis does pick an AFC East team it will be the one in South Florida."
Locking up $20 million per year in starting cornerbacks would be a bold move, but the notion of having the league's top two corners on the same team is an appealing one.
New York Jets
Cap Space: $42.5 million
On some level, it might seem odd to suggest the Jets as a landing spot for Revis. After all, it wasn't that long ago that the Jets traded him to Tampa Bay.
However, they have been closely linked to Revis, and according to Gary Myers of The New York Daily News, the interest between the Jets and Revis is mutual.
“Darrelle would love to play again for the Jets and Rex. That’s a fact,” an NFL source said Tuesday, per Myers. “He always loved Rex. Just remember, he never wanted to leave the Jets.”
Dee Milliner struggled as a rookie, and Antonio Cromartie was cut, so the Jets have a need in the secondary.
Throw in the added benefit of keeping Revis away from the Patriots, and it's an idea worth exploring with a good degree of enthusiasm.
Cap Space: $44.6 million
Like the New York Jets, considerable buzz has connected the Cleveland Browns and Revis over the past couple of days.
As Mary Kay Cabot of The Northeast Ohio Media Group reports, the Browns showed "significant" interest in trading for Revis before his release, and it's believed that interest continued once he was let go.
Selling him on Cleveland may not be easy given its recent struggles, but the team has plenty of cabbage in the fridge, and pairing Revis with Joe Haden would give the Browns one of the league's top duos at cornerback.
If only they could get him to play quarterback too.
Cap Space: $47.9 million
Other than trading Blaine Gabbert to the San Francisco 49ers, the Jacksonville Jaguars have been relatively quiet in free agency so far.
It's not all that surprising, given general manager David Caldwell's preference for building through the draft.
However, the Jaguars have the cap space to make a run at Revis, the team could use an upgrade at cornerback, and Revis would appear to be a good fit for Gus Bradley's defense.
It's unlikely the Jaguars will pony up the dough it would take to lure Revis, but that doesn't make it a bad idea.
Cap Space: $51.2 million
The Oakland Raiders have two things that make them a prime landing spot for Revis.
They have more than $50 million in cap space and needs at every position from quarterback to foam finger concessionaire.
Sure enough, they are "strong players in the Revis sweepstakes," according to Vic Tafur of The San Francisco Chronicle (h/t Will Brinson of CBS Sports).
It may take overpaying to overcome the stigma surrounding the Raiders' recent woes, but Oakland needs playmakers in the worst way.
Revis is a playmaker.