The Darrelle Revis trade was a bad trade. There's no way to get around that: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave up a first-round pick, a fourth-round pick and $16 million in cap space for one year of elite cornerback play on an otherwise horrible team. This was not the 49ers riding Deion Sanders to the Super Bowl. It was Greg Schiano driving Darrelle Revis into Bill Belichick's arms, as he did with so many other players.
As bad as that trade was, though, it doesn't even come close to the worst trade in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history, let alone NFL history. This was not a franchise-crippling move, the way the Herschel Walker trade was. This was not a case of giving up an entire draft's worth of picks for a running back, as Mike Ditka did for the Saints. It wasn't even trading the farm for a horrible quarterback like Matt Cassel or Kevin Kolb, nor was it trading away your franchise quarterback so you can start a fullback with a wind-up catapult for an arm.
Lest we forget, the Buccaneers have a history of stupid, stupid moves. Oh, every team has its draft busts, even at the top of the draft. But few teams can boast of having drafted someone first overall, only to see him go off to a baseball career. And that was after Mr. Bo Jackson told Hugh Culverhouse that he wouldn't play for Tampa Bay.
Even fewer teams let their franchise quarterback walk in free agency over what amounted to not all that much money, as the Bucs did with Doug Williams. And what about that time they took the wrong player in the first round due to some phone mishap, then traded away next year's first-rounder to take the 'right' player in the second round -- and he turned out to be a bust anyway.
Incidentally, that trade was the reason why the Bucs did not have a first-round pick in the infamous 1983 draft. You know, the one that had quarterbacks John Elway, Todd Blackledge, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Ken O'Brien and Dan Marino all going in the first round.
Not that it would have mattered: knowing the 1980s Bucs, whoever they would have drafted wouldn't have succeeded with them anyway. After all, they couldn't get Hall of Famer Steve Young to play well in Tampa, and then traded him to Bill Walsh for a second-round pick. Oops. Almost as 'oops' as the time they traded their second overall pick for Chris Chandler, and then cut him after he started just six games. Incidentally, he'd later lead the Atlanta Falcons to their lone Super Bowl berth.
And the Revis trade? Well, at least it made some sense at the time. Revis still is the best cornerback in the NFL, after all. But trading for him when you're not going to build your defense around him -- that is sheer stupidity, Greg Schiano. Him getting cut now makes that trade worse, but that's also a result of the previous regime getting fired -- in part for failing to get the most out of Revis. Oh, delicious irony.
Trading for Revis wasn't a franchise-killing decision, though, nor a franchise-making one. The Jets got a good player out of it, but in three years, no one will care. No one got a franchise quarterback out of this, nor a slew of draft picks. In effect, it was just another failed mid-first-round pick, and a free agent bust whose damage is limited to a single year's salary.
In fact, there's a small chance that we'll look back at the Revis trade and decide that that was the turning point for the Bucs. That that trade was the catalyst for Lovie Smith's entrance as the Bucs' head coach. That cutting him allowed the Bucs to build a foundation for the future.
Oh yeah, the Darrelle Revis trade was bad. Every time you give up two picks and a massive salary for a player who lasts just one year on your roster, something went horribly wrong. But the Bucs have made many, many worse decisions over the years, and NFL history is filled with disastrous trades. This one wouldn't even crack the top 10.