This trade has been in the works for a couple months now because well… it’s made a lot of sense. The New York Jets already had admitted that they were blowing up their roster and essentially starting from scratch (QB Mark Sanchez aside), and the Buccaneers were ridiculously thin at corner with their most recognizable corner being 7-year pro, Eric Wright. This was also on the heels of a season where the Buccaneers defense finished first in the league in run defense and dead last in pass defense.
The real kicker?
They finished 29th in overall defense… think about that for a second. They had the best run defense, yet they end up with the 29th total defense because of their inability to cover anyone. This is why the trade made some sense… The thing that held it up throughout the process was the value New York wanted for their prized corner, who is arguably the best corner in the game (only Seahawks CB Richard Sherman really has an argument). Revis is coming off ACL surgery to repair his knee that he injured in Week 4 this past season. While indications were that Revis was progressing nicely, knee surgeries, especially ACL surgeries, don’t always turn out like Adrian Peterson’s. Revis wanted to be paid like one of the best in the game, but New York couldn’t pay him that with the uncertainly of the injury looming over negotiations. If they didn’t pay him that elite salary, the Jets would lose him following this season in 2014 when New York can’t use a franchise tag. It’s hard to imagine the feeling of having the best at his position one year, and then watching as that same player departs without real compensation, particularly if that departure is to a team like the New England Patriots. The Jets were stuck in a bind and, in return, received the Buccaneers first-round pick this year (#13) and then a conditional fourth-round pick next year. That pick turns into the Buccaneers third-rounder if Revis is on the Bucs roster the third day of the 2014 league year (think around first week of March if I’m not mistaken). So yes… unless the wheels completely come off and Revis suddenly becomes expendable, the Jets will receive Tampa Bay’s third-round pick in 2014.
Now, before I run out of things to say, let’s take a look at where everyone sits as the dust continues to settle.
The New York Jets
The thing that held up this trade, reportedly, was that New York wanted three draft picks from Tampa, including the 13th pick this year, a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick. All three would have been great value picks which obviously don’t suddenly make the best corner in the game expendable, but getting those picks in return certainly would have made things easier to handle. The Buccaneers, obviously, didn’t want to give up three picks for the star player who is coming off major knee surgery, so they stood their ground on only giving up the two. Apparently there was an ultimatum given and with no where else to go, the Jets got what they could (the 13th pick and the conditional 4th in 2014). How can you replace Revis with draft picks? I want to say New York should be happy with this outcome, mainly because it could be much worse, but how can they actually be happy they lost Revis. Certainly two solid picks with that 13th pick and next year’s pick would go a long way in helping ignore those regrets, but at 27-years-old, Revis is still, in theory (injury recovery pending), at the top of his game. Then again, despite New York’s struggles, CB Antonio Cromartie played very well after Revis exited. The Jets secondary is still solid.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers
On the surface this is a surefire win. They got a star player at a position they DESPERATELY needed and they got him for their price. Good right? Yes and no. While all those things are true and make this a good trade for them, there is still an element of unknown. The trade only officially went through following a physical by the Buccaneers to check out Revis’ knee. The physical obviously went well, but still, not everyone is Adrian Peterson, who suddenly returns to top form months removed from major knee surgery. Revis plays a position where cutting ability is essential and any loss of ability in that area could take from being worth the money they pay him (more on that later) and making him just another solid cornerback. I personally think he will be fine and Buccaneers will laugh at my mere concern for his health years from now when Revis is consistently named an All-Pro, but as long as there is a shadow of a doubt, we need to acknowledge it.
Oh and then the money… He signed a new contract worth up to $96 million over six-years. That makes him the highest paid defensive back ever and one of the highest paid players in the NFL all positions considered. Is he worth the money? Certainly… if playing at his normal healthy self. See where things aren’t clearly in Tampa Bay’s favor here? Now I will say, none of this money is guaranteed. None. Not a dollar. That means that if this entire trade does backfire in dramatic fashion, the Bucs only lose out on their draft picks and whatever they had already paid Revis. They won’t have to pay off his contract of anything of that sort.
The other factor here is that Tampa Bay, along with securing an exit strategy from the massive contract, has told Revis that he has to continue to rehab in Tampa Bay where their doctors can monitor the progress firsthand. Another win for the Bucs.
Tampa Bay has to feel good about this deal as they have the opportunity to benefit from having one of the very best at his position, but also seem to have protected themselves by having “backup plans” if the unknowns surrounding Revis become problems.
The Jets head coach isn’t happy. Not in the “I hate people” sense, but rather the “Revis was the guy I needed most” sense. Ryan is a defensive guy who loved having Revis, who was more than capable of shutting down an entire side of the field. Obviously any coach would love that… but I heard somewhere (please forgive my short-term memory) that “Ryan cares more about having a franchise cornerback than having a franchise quarterback”. True. Now he has neither and he faces down a make-or-break season where he needs to do something magical to keep his job with a roster that is just awful to this point and just got much worse.
Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and Drew Brees
I think you have to assume these guys aren’t excited to be playing Revis twice a season. Revis is a game-changing cornerback who suddenly complicates offensive strategies across the NFC South. To be clear, I’m not saying Tampa Bay is suddenly the favorite to win the division or anything, but what I am saying is that these guys suddenly have a very real threat roaming around the Bucs secondary. As of a year ago, the Bucs secondary was swiss cheese (I know it’s not the most original metaphor…), but now things aren’t so easy.
This is pretty clear cut. He will make $96 million over the next six-years, is being hailed as the savior of Tampa Bay and there isn’t any state income tax in Florida so yeah… there’s that…
Win – Win?
I have trouble writing this section because this is essentially me saying if right now, with nothing being accomplished, who did better in this deal. Frankly, without seeing Revis play at his normal “studly” ability and without seeing how New York benefits from their compensatory draft picks from the NFL (projected to award New York four draft picks in the 2014 draft for this trade) and the Buccaneers, it is impossible to actually pick a winner. But, I am a writer, so I’ll give you something. The Jets had to get rid of him at some point to get value for him since they didn’t seem to have any intention of resigning him (more due to discrepancies in perceived value as opposed to not having interest in resigning Revis). Getting only two picks is frustrating, but a first and third (most likely) can turn into some very good players and if New York drafts well, those picks could be instrumental in rebuilding that team.
The Bucs on the other hand are sitting pretty at this point in time as they filled a need without giving up to too much for arguably the best there is (at least active). Shelling out $96 million is always a little frightening, but Revis seems to be a guy who is very focused on being the best while cashing the checks is more secondary. Not to mention, the contract includes no guaranteed money and Tampa Bay still keeps the key middle round picks this year. There are still concerns about his health, but I imagine those will be shored up soon enough.
Let’s call this a “win – win” trade as both got what they could out of the deal. The Jets ended up better than they would have most likely and the Bucs obviously got what the wanted. Just forget that at one point the Carson Palmer to Oakland trade was also considered a “win – win”.