Updates from Monday, Mar. 17
Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports has more on Revis' deal:
Updates from Sunday, Mar. 16
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com has the latest on Darrelle Revis' deal with the Patriots:
Darrelle Revis didn't quite get the same jump on free agency as other players, but for the second straight offseason, a team will be paying a handsome sum for the All-Pro cornerback to switch teams. Revis and the New England Patriots agreed to a one-year, $12 million contract on Wednesday, culminating a rapid negotiations process.
On Thursday, Revis' business manager, John Geiger, confirmed the deal:
ESPN's Adam Schefter first broke the news on Wednesday:
Tom Pelissero of USA Today followed up with additional contract details:
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport has more on the deal:
After a pre-draft trade sent Revis from the New York Jets to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a first-round and conditional draft pick in 2013, his representation negotiated a six-year, $96 million contract—only it came without guaranteed money.
Revis, coming off an ACL tear, negotiated in good faith that his performance level would justify the deal. The Buccaneers, meanwhile, took a risk on a premium talent with the guarantee they could cut bait if the deal didn't work out.
No one expected a divorce to happen so quickly. In one of the more confounding decisions of the early free-agency period, the Buccaneers released Revis on Wednesday. Tampa Bay tried trading Revis before cutting bait entirely, but was asking for pittance compared to the haul it gave up one season ago. Since the Buccaneers released him by 4 p.m. Wednesday, they avoided paying a roster bonus and will convey only a fourth-round pick to New York rather than a third.
While still a confusing move considering Revis' performance level, the decision ostensibly centered on the Bucs' power structure being unsold on how he'd fit within Lovie Smith's defensive system. Smith replaced former head coach Greg Schiano early this offseason and plans on implementing his patented Cover 2 system. Revis, who excels when put out on an island in press man-to-man coverage, expressed his dismay last season at Schiano's insistence in playing him in zone early on.
"We have specific ideas regarding the best way to build this defense and, while you never like to lose a good player, we believe this is in the best interests of our team moving forward," Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said of Revis' release.
One could easily lob criticisms at that angle. Too often coaches are overly beholden on their style instead of working with the talent on the roster, which was arguably the case here. The Buccaneers landed a replacement in Alterraun Verner who is considered a zone maven—and at a much cheaper price—but one must wonder whether choosing a schematic fit over a superstar-level player was the most prudent roster move.
That was apparent from the moment Revis hit the free-agent market. Much like when the Dallas Cowboys released DeMarcus Ware, teams wasted little time chasing after the five-time Pro Bowler. The Philadelphia Eagles and Patriots quickly emerged as two of the favorites, per Schefter. New England lost its top cornerback, Aqib Talib, to the Denver Broncos on the first day of free agency, though the looming scope of a bidding war loomed.
Now that he's in New England, Revis should be moving into a situation far better suited for his skill set. The Patriots, in addition to money, likely sold Revis on their willingness to allow him to do what he's always done—work on an island and take down the opposing team's best receiver.
For all of the up-and-down play and distractions that followed Revis' short stay in Tampa, there are plenty of reasons to think he'll be a worthwhile investment. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) graded Revis as the best all-around cornerback in football last season, with his all-around game being the primary reason. Revis ranked among the 10 best corners in the league both in coverage and against the run.
Delving deeper into the metrics, PFF had Revis behind only Seattle's Richard Sherman in its coverage-snaps-per-reception metric. Given Revis' ability to move around the field and shadow a team's best receiver—oftentimes teams merely have a player stick to one side of the field, though this varies by scheme—the Patriots have to feel they're landing the best free agent this spring, bar none.
Now nearly two full years removed from his ACL surgery, Revis should have at least a few more years of peak form left. He'll turn 29 in July and still looked great in an untenable situation last year. With any luck, a move to New England may reawaken the hallowed Revis Island.
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