Nov 17, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) laughs on the sidelines as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Atlanta Falcons 41-28 at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have one of the two best cornerbacks in football. In the same way many have debates as to whether Peyton or Brady is the best quarterback, Revis and Sherman are the corners jockeying for the honor as top CB in the NFL.
Yet recently there have been trade rumors surrounding the Buccaneers’ All-Pro corner, and many fans and members of the media have convinced themselves that Revis would be better off out of town.
But they’re wrong. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers should not trade Darrelle Revis unless a team is willing to offer a game-breaking deal for the elite cornerback.
Advantage in Any Scheme
Darrelle Revis may not be a perfect fit for Lovie Smith’s ideal defense, as he’s a pure cover corner who was at his best in New York with no safety help and an aggressive front seven based on his incredible level of play as a one-on-one defender against top receivers.
But he’s still Darrelle Revis, no matter the scheme, and he’s still going to be dominant.
As Cian Fahey of Pre-Snap Reads wrote in his column breaking down Revis’ season (which is a must-read, by the way), Greg Schiano had no idea how to use Revis, and he still posted an off-the-charts season using his analysis. The idea that he somehow becomes less valuable under a more competent coach is mind-boggling.
Sure, Lovie Smith isn’t going to line Revis up in press-man with no help, but no matter what Revis is doing on the field, he’s still quick, explosive, smart, and talented enough to be the best at whatever his role becomes.
The question then becomes, is he worth it?
It’s Not All About the Benjamins
(Remember that song? Man, I’m getting old.)
Yes, Darrelle Revis is set to make $16 million in this upcoming season. Yes, the Buccaneers could do other things with that money. But let’s consider the true value of Revis relative to his salary, and the Buccaneers’ situation in regards to the salary cap.
The Buccaneers currently have a healthy amount of cap space, with an estimated 18 million open at the moment with more set to open by making some offseason moves. That’s not enough to add an impact player while also filling out depth, but the team can certainly snag a couple of decent players for that amount while also building through the draft.
But let’s just say the Buccaneers do need to open more cap space. They have options besides letting go of Revis:
- Cutting Connor Barth saves $2 million.
- Cutting Michael Koenen saves $3.5 million.
- Cutting Davin Joseph saves $6 million.
- Cutting Vincent Jackson with a June 1st designation saves $10 million.
- Cutting Donald Penn saves just under $8 million.
- Restructuring Darrelle Revis’ contract could open up more money in the short-term at the expense of long-term cost.
In other words, by cutting their league-average left tackle, below-average right guard, and mediocre punter with good kickoff numbers, they could save the same amount they save by trading Revis. They then have to sign three starters, but for all three positions, they’re not trying to replace an elite talent.
Replacing Penn, Joseph and Koenen with league-average players wouldn’t cost the full $17.5 million they’d save by letting them go, which opens up more cap space to pursue a big name player in free agency.
But is free agency even the right focus for the Buccaneers?
The Salary Cap Is Not the Buccaneers’ Friend
As we discussed yesterday, the salary cap is set to go up over the next couple of seasons. This means that having a player like Revis under contract for the long haul means his salary number will descend back down to earth once free agents start getting deals with a higher pool of funds for NFL teams to pull from.
This also means the Buccaneers will pay more to add free agents in the next couple of seasons, and won’t get good value in an inflated open market.
One of the players most Buccaneer fans would like is Greg Hardy of the Panthers. And while he plays a position that’s important for Lovie Smith’s defense, he’ll likely cost the same as Darrelle Revis, while not providing an elite level of dominance at his position. He’s a very, very good defensive end, but he’s not as dominant at his position as Revis is at his.
And of course, in this scenario, the Buccaneers don’t have a corner to play across from Johnthan Banks. So they’ll either be stuck taking a rookie (who will fail, as rookie corners almost always do before they get acclimated to the NFL game), or overpaying for a free agent who isn’t as good as Darrelle Revis.
The Buccaneers have Darrelle Revis locked up at just the right time, as his contract will only look more and more appealing over the next couple of seasons.
Don’t Become the Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins spent last offseason bringing in every key free agent they could, and they’re now locked into several bad contracts on a team that still has tons of holes and doesn’t seem ready to contend.
Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks have rosters full of draft picks, undrafted free agents, and cheap pickups who prove to be incredible valuable, and these teams contend every season.
Obviously this is over-simplifying what is a complicated comparison, as there’s more to it than “the Dolphins built through FA while the others built through the draft.”
But if the Buccaneers need a pass rusher, why not pursue Khalil Mack, Kony Ealy, or any of the other options in the 2014 NFL Draft rather than breaking the bank for a free agent?
Because even if Greg Hardy hits the open market, which he might not, he’s not guaranteed to come to Tampa. Getting stuck without Hardy means bringing in a lesser pass rusher for what would still be a hefty sum of money and missing out on having one of the best corners to ever play the game.
He’s Just Too Good
Darelle Revis is just too good to let go for anything less than a king’s ransom. He’s a dominant player, in his prime, who worked his way back to health and will be even better in 2014 on a 100% repaired knee.
There are arguments to be made for blowing up the roster in Tampa Bay, but getting rid of a superstar corner shouldn’t be a part of those discussions. The Buccaneers won’t be paying a franchise quarterback the “big QB contract” any time soon, so why not keep Revis as the team’s franchise cornerstone and build around him.
It’s also quite presumptuous to think that Leslie Frazier and Lovie Smith won’t use Darrelle Revis in creative ways based on his ability.
Lovie Smith Knows How to Coach a Defense
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