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Pats, Broncos could be trying to shake Revis free from Tampa


Last year, as the Jets prepared to trade cornerback Darrelle Revis, the process originated from within the team. Specifically, from the owner.

As Revis once again becomes the subject of trade talks, the process possibly is getting kick started from beyond Tampa.

New Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith remains resolute that Revis fits the defense Smith will be running, even though new G.M. Jason Licht has avoided the question of whether Revis could be traded, calling the player an “asset” to the football team. For now, the Bucs seem to be inclined to keep Revis around.

There’s a theory in league circles that, this time around, other teams want Revis more than his current team wants to trade him. While the $16 million cap figure remains a lot to allocate to a cornerback who prefers playing full-time man-to-man in a system that relies heavily on zone coverage, the sense is that the chatter is coming from teams that would pay the amount for a year or two as part of an all-in effort to win a Super Bowl.

The speculation has centered most prominently on the Patriots and Broncos. Both teams have aging franchise quarterbacks who have managed to contend but not conquer in recent years. Both teams are running out of chances to finish the job.

For New England, paying Revis a $1.5 million roster bonus, a $1.5 million workout bonus, and a $13 million base salary could be a much more desirable alternative than giving a big-money, multi-year deal to Aqib Talib. Thanks to Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots would be taking a huge risk by making a big investment in another player with a history of off-field trouble. With the market for Talib believed to be more robust this year than last, the Pats likely won’t be able to pull off another one-year, $5 million can-kicking contract.

Enter Revis. With Tom Brady’s 2013 contract extension giving him $30 million up front but giving the team a more manageable cap profile, the Patriots could absorb the pay-as-you-go Revis contract, for 2014 and maybe 2015. The boost to the defense would justify the addition, and the ability to stick it to the Jets would be icing on the cake.

Indeed, that’s one of the reasons why the Jets traded Revis a year ago. If he’d completed his contract in 2013 and become a free agent, he could have made a beeline to Foxboro. One year later, the same outcome could arise.

Then again, the Broncos could make a more attractive offer. Dumping cornerback Champ Bailey and his $10 million cap number and swapping in Revis would result in a net cap increase of $6 million -- but a dramatic increase in on-field ability. While Revis may not give the Broncos enough to close the 35-point gap with the Seahawks, it’s not a bad start.

It needs to start soon, if it’s going to happen. If the Buccaneers still have Revis on the roster as of March 13, they owe him $1.5 million -- and thire fourth-round pick that currently belongs the Jets becomes a third-round pick.

For Tampa, the biggest question is whether it’s worth $16 million from a football standpoint to keep Revis. From a business standpoint, the question is whether the Bucs have built up enough equity via the hiring of Lovie Smith to offset the criticism that would come from running off last year’s swing-for-the-fences acquisition.

Then again, having Revis on the team didn’t really help the Bucs knock the ball out of the park. Or to help fill the place up.