The biggest story of last winter for the New York Jets was the Darrelle Revis saga. Revis was the team’s best player, and generally considered the best cornerback in the NFL. He was also coming off of a torn ACL, and he was seeking a contract extension that would make him the highest paid non-quarterback in football.
With all the drama surrounding Revis and the doubts about his future, new general manager John Idzik chose to trade Revis, agreeing to send him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 13th overall pick in the 2013 draft and a third round pick in the 2014 draft. The Bucs signed Revis to a 6-year, $96 million contract, while the Jets drafted defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson with the pick they received.
Now that we have half a season to evaluate the Revis and Richardson in their new homes, how did the Jets do in this blockbuster deal? The answer is complicated. The Jets got good value in return, but they gave up quite a bit of value as well.
Let’s start with Revis. The Jets clearly miss his presence, badly. They are ranked 15th in the NFL in pass yards allowed per game this season, their lowest ranking in Rex Ryan’s tenure by a wide margin. Star receivers like Vincent Jackson, Julio Jones and A.J. Green have all had their way with the Jets this season, and Revis would certainly have been more effective against each.
When the Jets made this trade, they made the statement that they believed Antonio Cromartie could be nearly as effective as Revis as the No. 1 corner. Cromartie has dealt with some injuries, but he has still struggled this season, and his play has dropped off noticeably from last year. The Jets also drafted Dee Milliner to help replace Revis, but he has gotten his career off to a very rough start.
Revis got off to a slow start in Tampa, but that is to be expected of a player coming off major knee surgery. He has quickly rounded into form, however, and he looks like an elite corner yet again. The Bucs have wasted his talents by playing an absurd amount of zone coverage, but they are starting to learn how to properly utilize Revis.
As for Richardson, the Jets landed themselves a star. He is among the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year, and he has been a dominant force on the defensive line, particularly for the Jets’ 1st ranked run defense. Richardson figures to be a fixture on the line for years, and there are many Pro Bowls in his future.
The Jets also obviously saved a ton of money and cap space in this deal, which is very important to them. They still have holes to plug in free agency, and they have young stars like Muhammad Wilkerson who need contract extensions. That has to be factored into any evaluation of this deal.
Finally, what the Jets get with that third round pick come April will matter. If they land another solid starter, it will be safe to call this trade a win for the Jets. As things stand now, it is fair to say that both sides are rather pleased with the production they’ve received from the players in this deal.
Of course, the Jets are 4-4 and the Bucs are 0-7, so Revis clearly isn’t making Tampa Bay better at this point in time. That in and of itself makes this trade look better for the Jets, as Richardson is a crucial player on a playoff contender.
So in the end, the fairest evaluation of this trade is to say that the Jets altered where on their defense they have star talent and saved a ton of money doing it. Revis’ play has not fallen off at all, and the Jets clearly miss him in the secondary. However, Richardson has been outstanding for the defensive line, and he costs a whole lot less than Revis. This trade is a win for the Jets, but they sure gave up a lot to get it.