There's a brand new Island in the Bay!
In one of the most dramatic and potentially impactful moves in franchise history, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have traded for Darrelle Revis, one of only two cornerbacks to win an AFC Defensive Player of the Year award in the last 20 years. To acquire the player known as "Revis Island," the Buccaneers sent their first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft (#13 overall) plus a conditional 2014 draft pick to the New York Jets on Sunday. The conditional pick could become a fourth or a third-round selection next year.
The Buccaneers also announced that they have re-signed Revis to a new six-year deal. That was a significant part of the maneuver, the possibility of which has been one of the NFL's main topics of discussions this spring, because Revis was due to become a free agent at the end of the 2013 season.
Revis' nickname refers to the unparalleled cover skills that allowed the Jets to "put him on an island" on one side of the field. With Revis able to control such a large amount of territory in their pass defense, the Jets could deploy extra defenders to come after the quarterback or help in coverage elsewhere. Revis also routinely blanketed the NFL's best receivers in one-on-one matchups, an asset that helped the Jets rank among the league's six best pass defenses in each of his last three full seasons.
Now Revis brings those rare talents to the Buccaneers, filling a position of particular need in just about the most thorough manner possible. The Bucs traded away a first-round pick for an established player for the first time in 13 years – coincidentally, the last such move was another trade with the Jets to acquire wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson – but it is a move that harkens backs to the comments of General Manager Mark Dominik after the recent free agency signing of safety Dashon Goldson. "We always try to find unique and rare instances … when you can add a player of this quality," said Dominik during Goldson's introduction. "It was a rare and unique opportunity and those have been successful for us in the past."
Revis definitely fits the bill, and his addition along with the arrival of Goldson and the continued development of 2012 first-round draft pick Mark Barron should give the Buccaneers' secondary a strikingly new look in 2013…and well beyond. Those three are all under contract with the team through at least the 2016 season.
Revis is the most decorated of the bunch, having been named to four Pro Bowls (2008-11) and three first-team Associated Press All-Pro teams (2009-11). He was also the AFC's Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, an extraordinarily rare honor for a cornerback; the last pure corner to win the award in the AFC before Revis was Rod Woodson in 1993.
Revis' All-Pro and Pro Bowl runs were interrupted in 2012 by a knee injury in Week Three that sent him to injured reserve. Because the injury occurred early in the season, he has had plenty of time to recover from the subsequent surgery and prepare for his 2013 debut season in Tampa.
The 14th overall pick in the 2007 draft, out of the University of Pittsburgh, Revis has started all 77 games in which he has played and has racked up 283 tackles, 18 interceptions (returned for 363 yards and three touchdowns), 95 passes defensed, two forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and one sack. He missed only three games in five seasons prior to his 2012 injury, and in 2009 he was the linchpin of the NFL's top-ranked defense. The Jets led the NFL in '09 in fewest yards allowed, fewest passing yards allowed and fewest points allowed, and Revis routinely shut down such number-one receivers as Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Brandon Marshall, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson and Wes Welker. The Jets also had the NFL's sixth-ranked pass defense in 2010 and fifth-ranked unit in 2011.
It was in 2009 that Revis began to gain a reputation as one of the NFL's best cornerbacks since Deion Sanders. Quite simply, he is the complete package, a true shutdown corner who also uses his 6-0, 200-pound frame to play a physical style of football. He can play zone as well as man-to-man and is a willing asset in run support. His elite speed and quickness allow him to shadow receivers on short, intermediate and deep routes with equal success.
Simply put, Revis is a unique talent and the Buccaneers acted on an exceedingly rare opportunity to add such a player to their team. The effect on Tampa Bay's defense should be extraordinary.