The reasons for not trading Darrelle Revis are obvious. When healthy, this guy is not only the Jets’ best player, but probably the best defensive back in the entire NFL and maybe even the best overall defensive player in the NFL. Including this year, when he played just 1 ½ games thanks to injury, Revis has allowed 153 completions on 371 attempts (41.2%) for 1946 yards (5.2 YPA), 8 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, while deflecting 62 passes, and committing 13 penalties over the past 5 seasons. That’s a QB rating allowed of 45.3.
No one else even comes close to that and he does it despite shadowing the opponent’s #1 wide receiver on every snap, something that most #1 cornerbacks don’t do anymore. He’s also just 28 in July and should have at least 3 more years playing at this level left in him. He’s coming off a torn ACL and the Jets would clearly be selling him low by trading him now, which is not normally an advisable move.
I say “normally” because there are reasons why moving him now would be smart. Without him last year, the Jets ranked 22nd in opponent’s scoring, but that’s more on the offense than the defense. According to DVOA, they were the 30th ranked offense in the NFL and 9th ranked defense and they were just 8th in the NFL in opponent’s yardage. That 9th ranked defensive DVOA is not on the same level as it was in the past 3 years, as they ranked 1st, 5th, and 2nd in defensive DVOA in 2009, 2010, and 2011 respectively, but it’s hardly bad.
It’s not that they didn’t miss Revis. It’s impossible to not miss a player of his talent. However, Antonio Cromartie stepped into that Revis role well, mostly shadowing opponent’s #1 receivers and allowing a 69.7 QB rating against and 46.0% completion. Defense wasn’t the issue for them last year. It was the offense. Because of the offense’s ineptitude and the “salary cap hell” they are in (more on that later), they probably won’t be competitive next year regardless of whether or not they trade Revis, which is important to note because not trading Revis would essentially be the same as renting him for a year.
Unless they sign him to an extension this off-season, Revis will be a free agent next off-season. They can’t franchise him, per his contract. And it’s highly unlikely they will be able to re-sign him this off-season, which goes back to that “salary cap hell”. That’s not my term. That’s how it was described by a league source, as they Jets are expected to enter the off-season around 19.4 million over the cap. That’s why they had so much trouble finding someone to fill their GM job.
They’ll have to cut several big salary players just to get under the cap and they have 10 starters from 2012 who are already not under contract. They’ll probably cut Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, and maybe David Harris, which would leave them with 9 starters under contract heading into the off-season (and one of those is Mark Sanchez). They probably won’t be able to re-sign key contributors LaRon Landry, Mike DeVito, Shonn Greene, and Dustin Keller already. How are they going to be able to give Revis the kind of extension he’s looking for, roughly 16 million per year? And if their cap situation is this bad now, it’s really going to put them at a disadvantage trying to re-sign Revis next off-season. This type of thing doesn’t fix itself in one year and Revis may want to play for a contender anyway.
Whatever happens, it’s tough to see Revis in a Jets jersey in 2014. It would be smart for the Jets to trade him while they can still get something for him, considering they are in no position to contend for a playoff spot in 2013 either way. Despite the torn ACL that cost him most of last season, he’ll still command a huge price on the trade market.
It’s not often that a player of Revis’ caliber is available through trade. It takes a special set of circumstances, but I think these circumstances qualify. This is the defensive equivalent of Peyton Manning being available last off-season or the modern equivalent of Reggie White being available in 1993. The Jets should be able to land at least a first rounder for him and if they can get a 1st rounder, preferably one in the top-15 picks, as well as a later pick, I say pull the trigger. That would give them a pair of top-15 picks to build around for the future, hopefully in a more cap responsible manner.
At least 10 teams have been rumored destinations for Revis and it wouldn’t surprise me if even more than 10 teams seriously consider it and call up new Jets GM John Idzik to feel the waters. Among those teams, I think that three are the most likely destinations. The Buccaneers make the most sense to me. They need cornerback help more than maybe anyone else in the NFL. Aqib Talib is gone and Eric Wright could follow him, after a 4 game suspension give the Buccaneers the right to void without penalty the rest of what was a ridiculous contract to begin with. He’s not worth the 30.75 million over 4 years left on his contract.
In their absence down the stretch, they tried several young cornerbacks, but ended up ranking 29th against the pass. They will probably bring in at least 1 cornerback, maybe two, in the first 3 rounds of the draft and cornerbacks are the favorites to go to them at 13th overall. However, even coming off a torn ACL, Revis is far more of a sure thing than any draft prospect could ever be and the Buccaneers have among the most salary cap in the NFL and would be able to sign him long term pretty easily.
The Bengals are another team with a lot of cap space, most in the NFL in fact. They have a few big free agents to re-sign, like Andre Smith and Michael Johnson, but even after that, they’ll definitely be able to sign Revis long term. They also have a pair of 2nd round picks so losing their first rounder and a later pick wouldn’t be that big of a deal for them. Adding Revis to a talented defense that already has Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Leon Hall, and Reggie Nelson would be enough to push them into top-5 status, at the very least, after being a top-10 defense in each of the past two years, and would make them Super Bowl contenders, however average the offense may be. Revis would play next alongside Leon Hall, with 2012 1st round pick Dre Kirkpatrick either moving to the slot or to safety.
The Colts are the third team. They also have plenty of cap space and after doing such a great job in 2012 despite having replacement level talents at almost every position, adding an elite player like Revis is exactly what they need. They are the third team, however, because they don’t have a 2nd round pick, after trading it for Vontae Davis. They may be hesitant to trade away their 1st rounder and a later pick for Revis for that reason, although they do like making splash moves and it would definitely make them a better football team both short term and long term. Other teams mentioned include New England, San Francisco, Seattle, Buffalo, Denver, and Atlanta, but for different reasons, none of those are as feasible as the three aforementioned teams.