Darrelle Revis will no longer a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as the team is expected to release the three-time All-Pro cornerback after unsuccessful attempts to trade him, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The former New York Jets defensive back was acquired by the Buccaneers during the 2013 offseason, but played only one season with the team before his release.
Now Revis will hit the open market for the first time in his career, where he will undoubtedly be an in-demand player. According to Schefter, the two teams to watch closely as potential suitors for Revis are the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles have the advantage in cap room of the two teams, as Andrew Cohen of Rotoworld estimated the team has more than $23.5 million to operate with. They also have a large need at cornerback after finishing the 2013 season with the most passing yards allowed in the NFL, although the starting pair of Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams weren't terrible. However, as Brandon Lee Gowton of SB Nation's Eagles blog, Bleeding Green Nation, notes, the team could use the upgrade:
I've maintained that the Eagles will likely sit tight when it comes to cornerback, aside from adding depth in free agency and a prospect through the draft. But if there's a clear upgrade to be made, such as signing Revis, it's hard to see the Eagles turning down that opportunity. Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher proved to be effective starters last year, but the Eagles are hardly tied to them from a financial perspective.
The Patriots have some cap space to work with too, as they are estimated to have just over $15 million. If that space is used to secure soon-to-be free agent Aqib Talib, it's unlikely the team will have the room to work with to secure Revis as well. However, if Talib leaves, the team will have the cap space to use and the hole in their secondary to fill.
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SB Nation NFL
However, there will likely be plenty of teams in on the Revis sweepstakes, and one such team is showing "significant interest" in him, according to NFL.com. That would be the Cleveland Browns, who have a significant amount of cap space and who have ties to Revis, as noted in the link. Mike Pettine was Rex Ryan's defensive coordinator when Revis played for the New York Jets. A pairing with Joe Haden would certainly be interesting.
Revis, 28, was the subject of a long series of trade rumors during the 2013 offseason before he was eventually dealt to the Buccaneers in exchange for the No. 13 overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft. That pick was used to select defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who was named the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year after racking up 3.5 sacks and 77 tackles in 15 starts.
The initial returns of the deal weren't too bad for the Buccaneers though, as Revis started all 16 games in the Tampa Bay secondary and looked every bit like his former self after an ACL tear ended his 2012 season prematurely. He earned Pro Bowl honors for the fifth time in his career and was the top performer of the team's defensive backs.
Still, the six-year, $96 million contract that Revis signed with the Buccaneers in April was due to count $16 million against the team's salary cap in each of the next five seasons before finally giving the team relief in 2019. While the team isn't tremendously strapped for cash, that's cap space that can be used elsewhere by newcomers Jason Licht and Lovie Smith, as they begin a rebuild of sorts for the team.
As J.C. De La Torre of SB Nation's Buccaneers site, Bucs Nation, described it, the team was forced into the move by the mistakes of former general manager Mark Dominik:
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SB Nation NFL
The bottom line is the asinine deal that the Buccaneers signed doomed this trade. We all tried to rationalize it. Revis is one of the best defensive players in football - he should be paid like it.
Yet with a $16 million dollar corner, the Bucs offensive and defensive lines fell apart and were left in shambles. Michael Bennett left to win a Super Bowl in Seattle. Schiano called him a situational guy.
Revis has been well-compensated during his very successful NFL career thus far, originally signing a six-year, $30 million deal as a rookie with the Jets before signing a four-year, $46 million contract with the team three years later. He earned three consecutive First-Team All-Pro designations before an ACL tear allowed him to play only two games during the 2012 season, which proved to be his last with the Jets.
The Buccaneers are on the hook for a $1.5 million roster bonus due to Revis on Thursday, so the decision to release the cornerback must come no later than Wednesday.