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The rumors have been swirling for a while now: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are getting rid of cornerback Darrelle Revis, and the New England Patriots are interested in taking him off their hands.
I’ve tried laughing it off as another of those ridiculous offseason “stories” that have no real journalistic basis. I didn’t want to write about it for fear of coming off as just another fill-in-the-blanks Bleacher Report post: “Should the (Insert team name here) Trade for/Sign (Insert star player name here)?”
But I can’t help myself anymore, especially now that Aqib Talib left a huge hole in the Patriots secondary by signing with the Denver Broncos. By 4:00 PM on Wednesday, Revis will either be traded or released, and all I can think about is twitching my nose and making him appear at a press conference in Foxboro wearing a Patriots uniform. Yes, even if it means mixing up my pop culture references and confusing “Bewitched” for “I Dream of Jeannie.”
I hadn’t given serious consideration to the notion of Revis in the Patriots secondary until the news broke that the Buccaneers would release Revis if they couldn’t find a trade partner by Wednesday’s deadline. (If Revis is still on the Tampa Bay roster at 4:00 PM, the Bucs owe him a $1.5 million roster bonus and the Jets a third round pick instead of a fourth rounder. They want that third round pick and $16 million in cap space.) I had a hard time believing reports that the Broncos and Patriots were trying to trade for a cornerback making $16 million a year (though without any guaranteed money), but it was much more plausible for someone like the Patriots to sign him to a team-friendlier deal as a newly released free agent.
Obviously I have no concept of what the Patriots would be willing to pay for Revis’s services, nor do I know what Revis expects in his next contract (though I’m guessing there will be some guaranteed money this time around). But clearly Bill Belichick would never set aside $16 million in cap space for a single player (other than maybe Tom Brady, and even that’s a stretch). And you expect him to give up something as valuable as a mid-round selection in the draft (even for a proven cover corner)? Please. Revis had to be released for him to appear as anything more than a faint and distant blip on Belichick’s radar screen.
But what really convinced me was an email from a college buddy of mine. After he just point blank said Revis was going to the Pats, causing me five frantic minutes of fruitless Googling before I demanded a hyperlink from him as proof (because if it’s written on the Internet, then it must be true). His response?
You need proof of this? What universe do you live in that says when Revis is released at 3:59pm tomorrow, thereby [screwing] the Jets out of a third round pick, that the Lord of Hosts will not take another shot at the Jets by placing the most awesome cornerback in decades on their division rival.
It’s the Jets, of course this is about to happen. It’s the new Murphy’s Law.
That last line sealed the deal! We’re talking about the Jets, who managed to ruin two promising young quarterbacks in one fell swoop and simply can’t get out of their own way. I don’t know if they’re the new Murphy’s Law (that would have to be the city of Cleveland, I think), but they’re certainly some sort of corollary.
Sprinkle in a dash of general dickishness from Bill Belichick (the aforementioned “Lord of Hosts”) towards a team he loves to tweak, and the map to bring Revis Island to Foxborough gets a little bit clearer. After all, this is a man who spurned the Jets to coach the Patriots, loved putting his former pupil Eric Mangini in his place, loves sticking it to Rex Ryan and all his overwrought bravado, and even managed to make a joke at the Jets’ expense (despite his reputation for being devoid of happiness, or any emotion, really). Clearly Belichick won’t let his desire to put one over the Jets interfere with what’s best for the Patriots. But Belichickian is the new Machiavellian, so he can justify thumbing his nose at the Jets by shoring up the Patriots defense with one of football’s best corners.
Of course, this imaginary scenario — with no more legs than hearsay and somewhat contrived division rivalries — has become an even bigger source of desperate hope for Patriots fans like myself now that Talib has left for Mile High Stadium. Poof! goes the dream of seeing Revis opposite Talib, the two totally shutting down an opponent’s passing game. But the silver lining in Talib’s departure is that it frees up money that might have been reserved for the former Patriot. It was unrealistic (if not impossible) for Belichick to land Revis while also bringing back Talib; now that money could go towards a fairly lucrative Revis contract, with less reservation over injury history and off-the-field issues.
Now I won’t blame you if you don’t believe two former college roommates rooting for division rivals forming crazy crackpot conspiracy theories off the top of their heads over work emails. What do we know? So don’t take my word for it, take ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter’s:
Two teams to watch on CB Darrelle Revis once Tampa releases him: Philadelphia and New England (Jets fans shudder).
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 11, 2014
And now with CB Aqib Talib a Bronco, Patriots figure to make a real push for Darrelle Revis.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 12, 2014