Ever since John Idzik took over as general manager of the New York Jets, trade talk surrounding superstar cornerback Darrelle Revis has heightened. Idzik joined the Jets from the Seattle Seahawks, where he earned his reputation as a strong cap manager.
With the Jets having cap issues entering this off-season, and Revis wanting a huge contract extension, Idzik appears set on sending his injured star packing. Initially there were many teams touted as potential suitors, but as of late one clear leader has emerged in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Last year was an eventful year for the Buccaneers’ secondary. Former first round pick Aqib Talib made an impressive start to the season, before being suspended four games and subsequently traded to the New England Patriots. Free agent cornerback Eric Wright was signed to a huge contract in the off-season, but he too was suspended during the regular season and had the guaranteed money on that deal voided. After 15 seasons as a cornerback, 37-year-old veteran Ronde Barber became a strong safety, and he started alongside an abrasive rookie in Mark Barron.
The completely revamped secondary that finished the season was ranked dead last in yards allowed through the air. Giving up 297.4 yards per game and 7.9 per attempt is simply too much in this era. After such an uninspired season, it’s no surprise that the team wants to sign the best cornerback in the NFL, regardless of his bloated contract or torn ACL.
There are plenty of ways to improve a secondary however. Why are the Buccaneers so set on investing so much in this specific superstar? Why not spread that investment through the whole defense and improve the unit on different levels?
With just one signing, the Buccaneers have built a secondary that needs a player with Revis’ skill-set to succeed. Outside of Revis, Richard Sherman and Joe Haden are the only players with Revis’ skill-set and neither player are available. Therefore, the Buccaneers are locked into acquiring Revis.
When Dashon Goldson was signed to a massive contract this off-season, he signed on to build a partnership at safety with the aforementioned Barron. Both are both better suited to play strong safety than free safety with their skill-sets. Neither player excels in space or in man/zone coverage. Instead they prefer to land big hits with their physicality.
If both Goldson and Barron started together in a typical defensive setup, they’d be consistently picked on down the field.
However, on a defense with a shutdown cornerback allowing them to ignore his side of the field, they wouldn’t be put in that space to be exposed. Instead receivers and tight ends would be forced to make tough receptions with both safeties in the area and quarterabcks would be hesitant to throw into the tighter windows that come with Revis on the field.
Few quarterbacks will repeatedly throw at Revis, presuming he returns to full health, but receivers will be few and far between if they are constantly taking hits from Barron and Goldson.
Because of the Goldson signing, the Buccaneers absolutely have to make a move to sign Revis. Without him, their secondary appears set to be one of the worst in the NFL once again.