According to Peter King of Sports Illustrated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are prepared to give up a first-round pick and a second-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft for Darrelle Revis, but the New York Jets are holding out for the Bucs' first-round pick this season.
The Jets have a vexing problem with Darrelle Revis, but if GM John Idzik plays his cards right, he could at least partially save face for trading the franchise's best player by getting no less than first- and third-round draft choices from Tampa Bay for the problematic cornerback, a source close to the negotiations told SI.com.
In fact, the source said, if the Jets are willing to take both picks in 2014, Tampa Bay would likely deal its first- and second-round picks for Revis, even though the Bucs are not sold that he can come back and be 100 percent after 2012 knee surgery.
The note on the knee surgery is interesting, although we've seen ACL injuries become less of a factor in recent seasons. At 27 (and 28 when the season starts), Revis certainly is young enough to come back successfully and still have a long, successful career ahead of him.
In addition, Peter King floats the number of a $15 million per year contract for Darrelle Revis. This is significantly more than the $12 to $13 million per year reported earlier, although the Bucs have the salary cap space and flexible contracts to handle even a hefty deal like that if necessary.
Making this kind of deal, especially one where the Bucs would give up both their first- and second-round pick in 2014 would be a clear signal that the Bucs are all-in this season. They'd be mortgaging their future, to an extent, in an attempt to win in the short term. In fact, a deal like that would be very similar to what the Buccaneers did following the 1999 NFC Championship when they traded two first-round picks for receiver Keyshawn Johnson, and two years later traded two first-rounders for head coach Jon Gruden. That eventually gave them a Super Bowl victory, but also left them talent-deprived and in salary cap hell. for years on end.
There's one crucial difference with that period: the Buccaneers had a dominant defense and were one of the top teams in the NFC. Meanwhile, these Buccaneers haven't even been to the playoffs since the 2007 season and haven't won a playoff game since winning the Super Bowl in 2002. While I like the possible addition of Darrelle Revis, as he has the possibility to completely transform the way a defense operates, there's a limit to how much I'd be willing to give up for him.
Still, if the Buccaneers win a few playoff games because of this trade, they'll look like geniuses. If, however, the Buccaneers give up this much for Revis and fail to win this season, they will be in a disastrous situation next situation. It would leave them in a situation where they may need to consider blowing the place up and re-building, although they do have a decent amount of young and proven talent on the roster. Mark Dominik may find himself out of a job without a winning season, and Greg Schiano may be considering his job status as well -- although I believe he's safe through at least the 2014 season. That would give Schiano two years to make the Revis trade work.
Ultimately, that may be what's driving this trade talk: an urgency to win now felt by both Mark Dominik and Greg Schiano. While it's a better long-term strategy to draft and develop players, cornerbacks are notoriously slow to develop and even drafting two or three rookies will cause the Bucs to struggle in pass defense no matter the ultimate quality of those players. Even Patrick Peterson and Morris Claiborne struggled their first year. In fact, Darrelle Revis wasn't a shutdown cornerback when he first entered the league. Rookie cornerbacks won't save Dominik's and Schiano's jobs, but a player like Revis might.
Giving up a first- and second-round pick in 2014 also has some serious consequences for the economics of the Buccaneers. Under their new philosophy the Buccaneers need the cheap starters that the draft provides to compensate for the expensive superstars they're signing in free agency and through trade. Missing two premium draft picks and likely starters will hurt the Bucs more than just through having less talent, but by giving them fewer cheap players to make their roster work under the salary cap.
Of course, there are more factors going into this. The Bucs may be more willing to part with a 2014 draft pick in the belief that they'll be better in 2013, leading to a draft pick later than 13th overall -- which is the draft pick they have now. If they do make it to the playoffs, their 2014 draft pick may not be far off from a second rounder and their second-rounder may not be far off from a third-rounder. That will also be one of the reasons why the Jets want this year's first-round pick. In addition, if the Buccaneers do turn out to be awful next year that lack of a first-round pick will be the least of Mark Dominik's and Greg Schiano's problems. They may soon find themselves out of a job instead, leaving whoever's coming in to clean up that mess.
Still, I would rather give up this year's first-round pick and a third-rounder either this or next year. This year's draft has a lot of depth and a lot of player who are of more or less equal value are likely to be picked between the Bucs' first- and second-round pick. I would also rather spread the hit of a lack of high draft picks over several seasons, rather than taking the big hit in one year. It's more structurally sound
There's also one more factor to consider: if the Bucs are awful in 2013, it's likely because Josh Freeman bombs Sanchez-style. If he does the Bucs will want to move on, and the best way to find a new quarterback is to use a first-round pick on him. Trading their 2014 first-rounder for Revis will make that impossible. Again, this may not be Schiano's and Dominik's problem -- but it would most certainly be the team's and by extension the fan's problem.
I wouldn't be happy with giving up both a first- and second-round pick as well as a contract worth $15 million per season. I wouldn't consider that a win for the Buccaneers, but a move that could potentially ruin the cap and the future of the Bucs for uncertain short-term gain. The key for the Bucs is to get that price down when this trade happens. Because, as Peter King also notes, the Bucs are the only real suitors and this trade makes too much sense to not happen. The question isn't if, it's when. And when it happens, the price they pay will determine whether it's a successful trade for the Bucs.