What's Next for the New England Patriots After Darrelle Revis Signing?
With the New England Patriots and Darrelle Revis agreeing to a one-year deal—worth $12 million according to ESPN's Adam Schefter—the focus turns to what Bill Belichick will do next to incorporate his new toy into his plan.
CB Darrelle Revis and the New England Patriots have reached agreement on a one-year, $12 million deal, league sources told ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 13, 2014
In addition to determining what impact Revis will have on the defensive scheme the Patriots will run, future personnel decisions will have to take his presence—and cap number—into account.
Here are five things that the New England front office needs to begin work on, ordered from short-term to long-term.
Clear Some Cap Space
According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, the New England Patriots are sitting with about $5 million in cap space. That needs to be addressed for New England to continue to improve their team prior to the 2014 NFL draft.
Sopoaga release had #Patriots at just under $17m in cap space. Revis will now take up $12m. IMO Wilfork def must redo his contract, or else— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) March 13, 2014
Vince Wilfork has been mentioned as a possible restructure candidate from the start of the offseason. His $11.5 million cap number needs to be reduced and if he is unwilling to accept a pay-cut or a restructure, he could be traded or released.
Adrian Wilson and Dan Connolly are two other Patriots that probably shouldn't be buying real estate in the greater Boston area. Each would free up valuable room for the Patriots to maneuver with.
Add a Free Agent to Pressure the Quarterback
If New England is able to free up enough room under the cap, former Minnesota Vikings player Jared Allen would likely be the top option available.
Allen, however, has threatened to retire if his contract demands aren't met. Marc Sessler from NFL.com has the details:
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that the veteran pass rusher might do exactly that if he doesn't see the money he believes he deserves on the open market.
"He wants his market value, he wants his fair salary, and if he does not get it, Jared Allen is very much at peace," Rapoport said on NFL Network's "Free Agency Frenzy." " ... He is willing to simply go about his life and walk away from football."
Squeezing enough money out of the salary cap to meet Allen's demands—whatever they may be—might be unlikely, but his presence would be immediately felt. Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones would be able to stay fresh, while the latter would kick inside to rush with two competent rushers alongside him.
Bolster Safety Position
The New England Patriots now have a fine cadre of cornerbacks. Revis joins Logan Ryan, Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington at a position that looks like a strength going into 2014.
The safety position isn't quite as clear, especially after jettisoning veteran Steve Gregory earlier this month.
Devin McCourty has the free safety position locked up for at least another year, but a spot as his running-mate is still up for grabs.
Duron Harmon saw extended action as a rookie and should have the inside track. Tavon Wilson has been a disappointment for many fans, but he still could earn some playing time in 2014.
The Patriots will likely add a safety in the 2014 NFL draft, where Alabama safety Hasean Clinton-Dix joins Calvin Pryor (SS, Louisville) and Jimmie Ward (SS, Northern Illinois) as top options.
Determine Cornerback Rotation
Once the personnel in front of and behind Revis is set, Bill Belichick will have to figure out who will play alongside him.
Alfonzo Dennard and Logan Ryan are in the driver's seat to play Robin to Revis' Batman. Dennard was the starter opposite of Talib in 2013, but his jail-time this offseason and Ryan's emergence might point to a changing of the guard.
If Ryan plays outside, that would leave Dennard and Arrington to cover the slots. Both are physical enough to get good jams on receivers underneath. However, I could see Ryan and Dennard switching when there is a taller receiver inside due to the former's additional height and length.
Regardless of how the corners line up, it is clear that this will be an improved squad—on paper at least—from the 2013 version.
Determine Long-Term Plan for Revis
According to Albert Breer of NFL Network, the New England Patriots don't want this to be just a one-year rental with Revis.
Also sounds like the Patriots are open to eventually making the marriage with Revis a longer-term one. Power move by New England, no doubt.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 13, 2014
With the salary cap expected to go up in 2015 and beyond and $10 million in dead money—thank Aaron Hernandez for $7.5 million of that—coming off the books next year, the Patriots would be in much better position to offer Revis a long-term deal that he may find palatable.
The franchise tag would also be an option according to Breer.
Important note: Darrelle Revis' 1-year, $12 million deal w/the Patriots doesn't contain anything preventing NE from franchising him in '15.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 13, 2014
If this does turn out to be a one-year gig for Revis, there is an upside for New England. Revis would likely—barring any similar signings by New England—command a big enough contract on the open market to gain the Patriots a third or fourth round compensatory choice in the 2016 NFL draft.