Darrelle Revis has loved his time in New England. Why wouldn’t he? The All-Pro cornerback returned to health, reestablished his place in the game in the hierarchy of shutdown corners, and left a floundering franchise to not only reach, but win his first-ever championship.
But he’s still that diplomatic Revis who doesn’t show his cards until the push warrants a shove. Hopefully he doesn’t pick up one of Brandon Browner’s flags in the process.
After the Pats upset the defending Super Bowl champs from Seattle last month (was it really that recent??) in Glendale, Revis celebrated in tears with family and teammates under falling confetti while being asked to look ahead to his future. A customary question, but at a time he probably wished could last forever.
“The offseason will weigh itself out,” Revis said. “I’m just so happy for us as a team, accomplishing the ultimate goal, winning the Super Bowl. I have a great team on my side, and we’ll figure my future out in the offseason.”
Here we are, a few short days from the start of the NFL’s new league year. Come Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m., Revis will either be paid his $12 million option bonus, thereby triggering his $7.5 million salary and $25 million cap charge, or he’ll be a free agent. Unless of course the Pats and their shutdown corner work out a new long-term deal beforehand, but he’d be crazy to do so before checking out if the grass is somehow greener elsewhere. Or, in a matter of speaking, if the green is greener.
It goes without saying allowing Revis to test the waters is a dangerous proposition, given the strong interest he’d receive from countless clubs. How many he’d deem close enough to contention or worthy of his pricey services is another story. That, of course, is provided winning another ring is a priority – or at least on a near-equal playing field – to the cash compensation he’s seeking. Historically, at least until he landed in Foxborough, Revis has always been about the money, and everybody knows it.
Maybe, though, it’s just a two-horse race.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, guest on Mad Dog Sports Radio with Adam Schein on Thursday, Revis is expected to reach free agency once the Patriots pass on next year’s hefty option. Then, his decision will likely come down to the Pats and Jets, the franchise with which he made his name.
“I think the Jets are going to pay him short of whatever he wants to bring him back there because not only could they use him, it would be a huge moral, emotional victory for that franchise to bring him back there, get him to finish his career there,” said Schefter.
“I don’t know what New England is going to offer him, I really don’t,” he continued. “Say it’s $10 million, $11 million a year, $12 million and you’re the Jets and offer $15-16 million a year. Worth it to go back to New York to finish your career for a few million dollars more where you would be saluted as a king? I don’t know. It’s a question of what you find most important, what you value most in your life and what you want to do with your career.”
Revis is going to be 30 next season. He’s a six-time Pro Bowler, a four-time First Team All-Pro, a Defensive Player of the Year, and he finally has his long-coveted championship.
In short, he has nothing else to achieve, but he’s got plenty left in the tank; more than enough to warrant a lengthy contract that guarantees at least the next two or three years. From here it’s gravy, whether that has him engulfed in another few playoff-less seasons for big bucks or regularly in contention for more bling for…slightly fewer big bucks.
“He’s in a situation where he’s made however millions over the course of his career — $70, $80, $90, $100 million dollars. He now has a Super Bowl ring. He’s played on a highly successful winning team in an organization or he has struggled in certain seasons with other teams,” Schefter added. “Now what do you want to do? Do you want to go get one last big deal from a team that is out there, and there will be a team like the Jets that is willing to give it to him, or do you want to go back to New England for less money and finish out your career knowing that as long as Tom Brady is there in that place, you’re going to be competitive every year?”
Schefter’s theory is obviously well founded. Aside from the fact he’s independently as connected as any reporter in the sport, there’s been local speculation as well. Last week, Manish Mehta wrote in the New York Daily News Jets owner Woody Johnson – the same billionaire that inadvertently tampered, in the silliest way possible, with Revis’s potential future – is interested in making a strong push toward a reunion with his long-time star, provided he becomes a free agent. The owner’s longed for that return since virtually the moment Revis was dealt away.
Sure, Revis’s old coach Rex Ryan is now in Buffalo and he’s presumably got some familiarity with fellow Pennsylvania native and future Bills running back LeSean McCoy, but it’s tough to envision Revis choosing the Queen City, even with his affinity for the rowdy Ryan.
Seemingly, as has been suggested, this decision will come down to finances and familiarity. If the Patriots make him a representative offer, which they can certainly afford to do, it’s a fairly safe assumption he’ll return and chase a Super Bowl W in Super Bowl L. It’s unfathomable there’d be an economic reason not to re-sign the best defensive back the club’s had in years, and an anchor to a championship defense, to a restructured contract. But, if the team lowballs Revis, you can assume Johnson’s Jets will not.
It’s a scary and disappointing proposition for Pats fans, the notion Revis could be won-and-done with the Patriots, especially in the wake of Vince Wilfork’s presumed departure that freed up so much cap space. But, it’s conceivable. Somehow, some way, the corner’s heartstrings may pull him back to the Meadowlands in an effort to complete the circle, make more than a few bucks along the way, and retire with the Gang in Green.
Perhaps, just maybe, Revis’s time in Foxborough was nothing more than an extravagant, $12 million vacation. He had the time of his life and lived out his wildest dreams, but it wasn’t reality. It’s time to head back to his home of six years; a place that’s sometimes mundane and often challenging, but undeniably irreplaceable and made him the man he is today.
While he considers his options, Pats fans will hope for just a little longer in the hotel suite getting lost on Revis Island.
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