By: Bob George
Okay, you have a cornerback who is the best the team has had in some six years. He is high maintenance, has problems staying healthy in conference title games, and talks like Boomhower on King of the Hill. He hits free agency, and two minutes later, he signs with Denver for a ridiculous amount of money. Denver adds two other big ticket free agents on defense, and now the team that knocked you out of the playoffs just got better.
So, what do the Patriots do? Simple. Get the best cornerback in the league dumped in your lap and sign him to a one-year deal.
Patriot Nation can now sit down and shut up. Aqib Talib was allowed to walk away with almost no resistance whatsoever. Meanwhile, down in Tampa, the Buccaneers decide that Darrelle Revis is too expensive to keep on the team, and seeing that no team would trade for him, they simply cut him. About four hours later, Revis is now a Patriot. Instead of being quite bereft at cornerback, the Patriots now have the next Ty Law. Or the next Raymond Clayborn.
Nah. They got the next Mike Haynes. Yes, folks, it’s that big.
For those of you not born in the 1980s or earlier, trust me when I tell you that Haynes was not enshrined in the Hall of Fame because he bought his way in. Drafted at the five slot out of Arizona State in 1976, Haynes played his first seven seasons in Foxborough and was at the epicenter of the first great teams in Patriot history. Many older folks still think (like Yours Truly) that the 1976 Patriots was the best team in franchise history, a team that would have won the Super Bowl except for Ben Dreith’s call from Hell.
Revis is that kind of player. He is the best cornerback the Patriots have had since Haynes.
Revis agreed to a one-year, $12 million deal with the Patriots on Wednesday night, hours after being released by Tampa Bay. He and Alfonzo Dennard (or Logan Ryan, depending upon whether or not Dennard acquires an Aaron Hernandez lifestyle) will form a terrific cornerback tandem for the Patriots in 2014, one that might stabilize the porous pass defense and maybe put the Patriots over the hump as far as making Super Bowl XLIX.
Make no mistake, this is one fantastic development for the Patriots. You get Revis for a year, let him play like crazy, then deal with him in the offseason when he suddenly becomes David Ortiz minus the charity figure/team heart and soul persona. Revis will want a boatload of money, a boat the size of Old Ironsides.
But we’ll deal with that later. Right now, let’s look into how this all happened.
Aqib Talib signed with Denver as a free agent, but the Patriots moved quickly to replace him with Tampa Bay’s Darrelle Revis. (USA TODAY Images)
The Patriots let Talib go without any fight whatsoever. This was perhaps the most important player on the Patriot defense. With him in the lineup, the Patriots had a much better chance of winning. He was injured in each of the last two AFC Championship Games, and in each case the Patriots went south when Talib left the contest.
So, the Patriots simply let him walk? He signs with Denver that quickly?
Something had to be going on behind the scenes. This was too illogical for the Patriots to let Talib go so easily.
However, when you realize where Revis came from, you then begin to understand. By the way, Revis came to New England from the same place Talib came from.
It is a fair assumption to make that the connection between Bill Belichick and Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano had a lot to do with Revis coming to New England. Schiano practically gave Talib to New England two seasons ago. Granted, the Buccaneers get nothing in this deal other than salary cap relief, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to believe, albeit the possibility that tampering rules were messed with, that Schiano helped steer Revis towards New England.
Add to that a nice one-year deal which seems that both sides are happy with, and you have a Patriot team which no longer needs to answer to its fan base about letting go of Talib with no resistance.
What will bear watching will be what the Patriots do with Revis a year from now. In the best case scenario, where Revis plays at an All-Pro level and leads the Patriots to at least a Super Bowl berth, Revis will command more than $12 million a year beyond 2014. And if you remember Revis’ history with the Jets, you might remember that when it comes to Revis and money, he makes Jacoby Ellsbury seem miserly.
We draw the comparison to Big Papi because of how often you hear the both of them complain about their contracts every year or so. Ortiz is doing it right now; coming off a great year and a World Series performance for the ages, he wants a new two-year deal from the Red Sox right now even though he has one year left on his current deal and the Red Sox don’t really have to do anything. Over the years, Ortiz has made many such demands; he remains the most beloved of all Red Sox players and the one person who can get away with cussing on live television, so management and fans put up with it but still wish he would stop whining about his contract every other year or so.
Revis will do much the same thing. He did lots of complaining when he was with the Jets and held many training camp holdouts while trying to force the Jets to bend to his will and his every demand. For someone whom the Jets should have held on to for his entire career, he wound up in Tampa Bay for the 2013 season following an injury-shortened 2012 season. The knee injury may have had a lot to do with the trade, but his constant holdouts wore thin with Jet management.
At least with the Patriots, you know this will be coming in 2015. Revis will want a monster deal and will not give the Patriots or anyone else a discount. To the Patriots’ advantage, the salary cap is due to go up over the next three seasons (which is why Denver splurged on three defensive stalwarts), so they might want to bend a little bit in making Revis want to stay for a few more years. If they look at Revis as the defensive Tom Brady, Revis may spend more than one season in Foxborough.
For now, good deal for the Patriots. Receivers will find slimmer pickings in the Patriot secondary. Revis gets to at least dream of a Super Bowl. The Jets will have to face him twice next year.
All the Patriots need now is for some big name receiver to get cut, and then they can kiss off Julian Edelman, too.