TAMPA, Fla. -- Giving up a 2013 first-round draft pick (and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2014 that could become a third-round pick) and handing $16 million per year to one guy generally is the type of move reserved for a team that thinks it’s on the cusp of a Super Bowl.
Add just one more piece and you’re over the hump and on your way to winning it all, the thinking goes.
Despite the hefty price tag, Tampa Bay’s trade with the New York Jets for Darrelle Revis on Sunday doesn’t quite fit the profile of an “all-in" move. One player, even if he’s the best cornerback on the planet, doesn’t suddenly take a 7-9 team and put it in the Super Bowl.
Other things have to happen -- like quarterback Josh Freeman becoming more consistent, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and a young defensive line continuing to progress and running back Doug Martin avoiding a sophomore slump.
But Revis instantly makes the Bucs better, and he’s going to bring star power to a team that hasn’t been relevant on a national scale or won a playoff game in quite some time. The last two times the Bucs made national headlines were when they fired coach Jon Gruden and when they released Derrick Brooks.
This time, they’ll dominate the news cycle with an incoming player. That’s significant for a team that has struggled for several years to sell out Raymond James Stadium. Say what you want about Tampa Bay’s ownership, but I think the Glazer family had a heavy hand in this deal. Attendance issues are very much on their minds and they just brought star power to a fan base that needs something to get excited about.
But this move isn’t purely about selling tickets. It’s about football, and general manager Mark Dominik and coach Greg Schiano were as much on board as the Glazers.
Schiano needs a shutdown corner to improve a pass defense that was the worst in the league last season. When signing guys like safety Dashon Goldson, guard Carl Nicks and Vincent Jackson over the past year, Dominik frequently has cited “rare’’ and “unique’’ opportunities to get Pro Bowl players in their prime.
The fact that Revis was even available makes him even more rare and unique than Goldson, Nicks and Jackson.
Assuming Revis is fully recovered from a knee injury, he, Goldson and safety Mark Barron, a first-round pick from last year, suddenly make the secondary look like a strength.
Yeah, the Bucs are gambling a bit on their future by giving up the draft picks, but they’re not mortgaging it. The Bucs had been sitting there with $33 million in cap room, just waiting for this deal to go down. They’ve got the cap room in future years to give Revis a lengthy extension, something no other team in the NFL was willing to do. Let's be honest: If the Bucs held onto the No. 13 overall pick in this year's draft, they weren't going to get a cornerback anywhere as good as Revis.
This trade doesn’t come with the long-term implications the trades the Bucs made for Gruden (two first-round picks and two second-round picks) and receiver Keyshawn Johnson (two first-round picks) carried.
Dominik and, to a lesser degree Schiano, are stepping out on a bit of a limb here. But even if they hadn’t made this deal, Dominik already was on a bit of a hot seat heading into his fifth year as general manager. Schiano is heading into his second season as the head coach, but patience no longer is a virtue in the modern NFL.
It’s a lost art. Teams need to win or else coaches and general managers will go quickly. Patience is especially thin in Tampa Bay because the Bucs haven’t made the playoffs since the 2007 season.
Adding Revis might not put the Bucs into the Super Bowl this season. But it might be enough to put them into the playoffs. Talk of a Super Bowl might come a year or two down the road.
Just making the playoffs would be a huge stride for this franchise. Just making the playoffs and selling out most of the home games would make the Revis deal worthwhile.