Following an eventful few seasons, you could argue the NFL offseason doesn't truly begin until there is talk about Darrelle Revis' contract or status with his team. If that is the case, the 2014 NFL offseason has officially arrived. Less than a year after he was traded from New York to Tampa Bay, Revis could be back on the trade market, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.
La Canfora reported rival executives think Revis is "ripe to be dealt" once the new NFL league year begins on March 11. Revis had a solid first season in Tampa Bay, but with a coaching change, he may not provide as much value to the Bucs as he once did. As Sander Philipse of Bucs Nation detailed, the defensive scheme new head coach Lovie Smith runs won't maximize Revis' skills:
Smith and Frazier will blitz and do some creative things, but not to the extent they would have to to get the most out of While Revis won't be limited to zone coverage, but he won't be the focal point of the defense, either. And that means Revis' added value over other available cornerbacks is less than the $16 million per year the Bucs will pay him to remain on the roster.
With his significant salary cap number, the Bucs might be better off trading him to recoup some draft picks then using the savings to acquire a couple additional pieces in free agency. While that sounds good on paper, it may be easier said than done. Revis' contract is the first impediment. Although his deal doesn't carry any guaranteed money, it does come with a $16 million annual base salary and multiple bonuses. The first of those bonuses, a $1.5 million roster bonus, in due on March 13. That doesn't give Tampa Bay very much time between the start of the new league year to get a deal done. March 13 is also an important day because if Revis is still on the roster on that date, the Bucs will send the Jets a third-round pick to complete the trade. If he isn't, Tampa Bay will instead surrender a fourth-round pick.
The second issue in finding a trade partner will be compensation. The Bucs appeared to be the only team willing to pay the trade premium to acquire Revis last year. Although he's no longer coming off an injury, Revis is a year older and comes with by far the largest cornerback contract in the NFL. Finding a team willing to give up significant assets to acquire Revis and his contract could be an issue.
Tampa Bay is yet to attempt to convert some of Revis' base salary into guaranteed money. Doing so would lessen the cap hit, but have financial repercussions should the Bucs trade or release him. Not doing so could be a sign the Bucs will at least explore the trade market. It also doesn't do much to quell the rumors, which will likely persist until Revis receives a roster bonus. They may quiet down after that, at least until next offseason.
Writing for the Huffington Post, Cardinals running back agent Rashard Mendenhall told a story about a vision he had two years ago. While the story was interesting enough, Mendenhall added intrigue with his closing paragraph:
That day I sat on my couch two years ago was the very next day after I tore my ACL in week 17. The journey I envisioned is the two years of rebuilding that would follow. And as I write this, today is the day that the journey is over and I am fully at peace. Eagerly looking to a new way, which lies ahead.
The open-ended statement has led some to speculate the running back is talking about his football career and hinting at retirement. Whether that proves to be the case remains to be seen. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March, assuming he still plans to play football.
Jordan Gross nearly retired last offseason before ultimately deciding to play another year. He did not make the same decision this year, instead opting to retire. The Panthers announced the 33-year-old Gross will officially retire on Wednesday. Gross was one of the top left tackles in football last season and James Dator said departure will leave an "immeasurable" hole on the offensive line:
The loss is immeasurable for the organization. Carolina does not have any current plan at offensive tackle and this could be the worst complete offensive line the team has had in over a decade. This is a time the Panthers were poised to take a step forward, but instead they'll take three back unless general manager Dave Gettleman finds a way to solidify the line.
Members of the Miami Dolphins met with Jonathan Martin's representatives at the Combine and while the Dolphins expressed a desire for Martin to return to the team, the lineman's representation told the team he has no intentions of playing for Miami, according to Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports. The meeting reportedly included head coach Joe Philbin "staring daggers" at Martin's representatives and saying they were the real problem in the situation.
The situation continues to be a messy one, as Kevin Nogle of the Phinsider wrote:
Obviously, there are still more twists and turns in the drama between the Dolphins and Martin. Will he actually return to the team? Could they hold on to his rights, hoping to work out a trade, and potentially fining him if he does not report to mandatory workouts and training camp? Would Miami take the cap hit of nearly $1 million simply so Martin goes away?
Carolina freed up some much-needed salary cap space on Monday, reworking the contracts of center Ryan Kalil and running back Jonathan Stewart. The Panthers converted base salary into signing bonuses in both cases, freeing up roughly $4 million in salary cap space. The deals give Carolina some extra room to work with this offseason, but the salary cap hits will carry over to future years.