This time last year, there was a buzz surrounding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and cornerback Darrelle Revis. Revis, who was a New York Jet at the time, was actively being shopped and the Bucs wanted him bad.
So bad, in fact, that the Buccaneers sent the Jets their 2013 first round pick, and a conditional 3rd or 4th round pick this year, depending on whether or not the Bucs had the star corner on their roster heading into 2014.
It seems like they won’t.
Multiple reports have surfaced that the Buccaneers are actively trying to trade Darrelle Revis after deciding that his $16M per year contract is not something that they would like to honor. If they cannot find a trade, the team will release Revis and receive no compensation from another team.
Currently, there is one clear-cut favorite trade partner, and that’s the Cleveland Browns.
Other teams are willing to let Revis hit the open market because they believe they’ll have a fair shot at signing him. The Browns, however, know that the man they call “Revis Island” wants to play for a winner. And if there’s any team more dysfunctional than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a consistent basis, it’s the Cleveland Browns.
The Oakland Raiders are also reported to have interest, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Still, knowing that the Bucs won’t have Revis on their roster either way hurts the value that the Buccaneers will receive in return. It would take a miracle for the Browns to part ways with one of their first round picks, so it is unlikely that GM Jason Licht can get something as good as that. More likely, the Bucs will have to settle for a mid-to-late round pick and take a huge loss on the investment made by former GM Mark Dominik.
Dominik created excitement for Tampa Bay by acquiring Revis last season, and was largely praised for that deal. However, he negotiated the cornerback’s contract that pays him $6M more per year than the second-highest paid corner in the NFL.
That contract has not gone over well with the Bucs’ current staff, and is the reason Revis is on the move.
But why does it have to be this way?
The answer is that it doesn’t.
The Buccaneers are not in any sort of cap trouble. They still have plenty of cap space, even after reportedly agreeing to terms with free agent DE Michael Johnson on a five-year deal. They have needs at tight end, quarterback, and all over the offensive line that need to be addressed, and the team does not need to make another hole to fill on their roster.
More specifics: Sources: DE Michael Johnson has agreed to a 5-year, $43.75M deal with 24M guaranteed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 11, 2014
After Revis, the Buccaneers have 2nd-year man Johnthan Banks, and the struggling Leonard Johnson. After that, it is a crapshoot to see who makes the roster.
The belief is that the front office has a plan in place to replace Revis once he is traded or released, but there is no concrete evidence of that at this time.
When you pair all of this news with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ recent history, it all paints a sad story for a franchise trying extremely hard to get back in the good graces of their own community.
Last season, the Bucs had to deal with a MRSA outbreak, a nasty breakup with their once-crowned franchise quarterback in Josh Freeman, and the nightmare that was the Greg Schiano coaching staff. Even more recently, they’ve had to defend themselves from Mike Williams’ party house reports, and the immediately negative reaction to the teams new uniforms and enhanced logo.
The inevitable loss of Darrelle Revis spells more misfortune for the team, who’s outlook was positive going into the 2013 NFL season.
Now, in its aftermath, the Bucs are forced to pick up all of the pieces that the former regime has left them. However, they’ve made the mistake of creating a problem that they didn’t even need. They have the money to give Revis this season, they don’t have a replacement on their current roster, they won’t get adequate compensation for him, and his contract has a clause that says the Bucs can turn most of his yearly salary into a bonus without the player’s consent, saving Tampa Bay millions in cap space.
It’s a head-scratching move from a team that has made many of them over the years.
Hopefully, there will be some positives to this story as it develops. But until then, it’s a senseless move that is hurting the team’s reputation amongst its fans even more.