Go get him.
What seemed illogical only a week ago has morphed into the New England Patriots’ best option at the dawn of NFL free agency: Get Darrelle Revis.
Nobody in their right mind is blaming the Patriots for not giving cornerback Aqib Talib the equivalent of the six-year, $57 million contract he landed with the Denver Broncos late Monday night. Talib was a vital component in his year-plus in the Patriots secondary, single-handedly improving one of the NFL’s worst pass defenses into something capable in order to give Tom Brady and the offense a chance every week. He was also their version of Clay Buchholz: Brilliant when he’s in between the lines, but his injury history became more of a red flag than the off-field issues that plagued him in Tampa Bay.
Fifty-seven million dollars? Twenty-six million guaranteed? No, thanks.
However, Talib’s departure leaves a significant hole at cornerback, and the bottom line is this: Would you rather have Cortland Finegan or one of the Cromarties in Talib’s place, or would you rather see the Patriots make a move the likes of they haven’t since buying low on Randy Moss?
It would be bold, expensive, and completely un-Patriot like.
That’s why it probably won’t happen.
That’s why it should happen.
Oh, sure, perhaps there’s some unknown second-string corner at Rutgers that Bill Belichick has had his eye on for a couple years, a guy that he thinks he can mold into a serviceable secondary member, but plugging holes on defense hasn’t worked in recent years, the very reason the Patriots made the 2012 deadline deal for Talib in the first place. Offensively, Belichick has proven he could plug pedestrians not named Ocho Cinco or Galloway into the scheme and be successful, as long as Brady deemed him worthy. On the other side of the ball, New England’s personnel has been a virtual dart board.
There’s a sure thing out there. Brady is 36. What’s the excuse?
The Broncos didn’t only improve their defense by signing Talib, but by acquiring Pro Bowl safety TJ Ward. Defensive end DeMarcus Ware, released by the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday, is expected to visit Denver on Wednesday, and could provide the Broncos with dangerous rushing tandem when paired with Von Miller. Add those acquisitions along with what was a record-breaking offense led by Peyton Manning in 2013, and the Broncos aren’t only arguably the best team in the AFC, they are…wait, actually, there is no argument.
Indeed, if the Patriots want to prove, yet again, that they are fine beating up on a pathetic AFC East, earning a bye, then winning a game against a wild card entry in order to call the season a “success” and thumb their noses at the doubters again, then enjoy delivering your crow. If Bob Kraft and Belichick actually want to make a serious push at a fourth Super Bowl, there are few other options for them right now than to go after Revis. Like, now.
By the end of the day, the Buccaneers are expected to release the All-Pro cornerback, which would leave the talent on the open market for the yahoo-spending likes of Oakland and Dallas to swoop in and invite Revis to NFL purgatory. That means if the Patriots do indeed have any intention of making such a move, it would behoove them to surrender draft picks. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports opined last night that it might take a fifth-round pick (the Patriots don’t have a fifth-rounder in this year’s NFL draft), which seems a bounty that plenty of other teams would salivate to surrender.
As for the money? Somehow, someway, that seems manageable as the Globe’s Ben Volin recently laid out:
Revis is set to make $16 million per year — $13 million in base salary, plus a $1.5 million roster bonus due each March and a $1.5 million workout bonus for showing up each offseason. At that structure, Revis’s $16 million salary cap number would be the largest on the Patriots – higher than Tom Brady’s $14.8 million.
But that contract comes with a big asterisk, as discovered by the Tampa Tribune. Per the contract, the team can convert Revis’s $13 million salary into a guaranteed bonus at any time. Revis actually would prefer this to happen — instead of waiting for the fall to receive his salary in 17 installments, he’d receive most of it up front in a big, fat check.
So, really, what’s the excuse?
Yes, yes, the Patriots don’t normally make splashes during the first day of NFL free agency, except, you know, when they did. Rodney Harrison, only the franchise’s most important defensive free agent signing, and Rosevelt Colvin come to mind. Those guys only won two Super Bowls together. Pfft.
Patriots fans have been so brainwashed to not expect explosive offseason moves that they react like the Walking Dead every March. In Bill We Trust. Patriot Way. Yes, Master.
But this is a critical juncture both for the careers of Brady and Belichick and the franchise itself. The Broncos are far and away the team to beat in the AFC, and the Patriots simply can not sit back and depend on the Dolphins, Bills, and Jets to pave the way to a “successful” season. No longer.
Go get Revis. Get him today. Being good and smarter than everybody else in the face of the NFL norm is great for the Krafts. I’m sure John Elway, Manning, and Talib will care about that when they’re fighting for the Lombardi Trophy next February.