Teams contact Bucs about trading for Revis. Will high cap number put him on the move?
Teams have contacted the Bucs about trading for Darrelle Revis and many believe the Pro Bowl cornerback could be dealt by the start of the league year.
Although the Bucs did not initiate the talks and are not shopping Revis, several teams at the NFL combine in Indianapolis began to explore whether Tampa Bay would consider a trade that would save $16-million on the salary cap to improve in other areas while potentially netting more draft picks.
Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports, who first reported the interest in Revis Tuesday, said rival executives believe a deal could be possible.
Bucs coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht inherited Revis and Smith has publicly refuted speculation that Revis would not be a good fit for the Bucs Cover 2 scheme.
Smith and Licht were not available for comment Tuesday.
Revis signed what amounts to a series of six, one-year contracts worth $16-million per year with no guaranteed money and is under the Bucs’ control through 2018.
It means Revis, who turns 29 in July, is occupying a huge chunk of the projected $132-million salary cap in 2014 that the Bucs could use to greatly improve their team, perhaps netting as many as three free agents.
Because there is no acceleration on the salary cap if Revis is traded or released, the Bucs could clear space to address other areas of need such as the defensive and offensive line while also acquiring an additional draft pick or two. The Bucs own the No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 draft.
A sampling of general managers during the combine put Revis’ current value on the open market at around $8-million or $9-million, according to LaCanfora.
Last April, the Bucs traded the 13th overall pick in 2013 and a conditional fourth-round selection in the 2014 draft to the New York Jets in exchange for Revis, who was recovering from a torn left anterior cruciate ligament.
If Revis is on the Bucs roster the third day of the new league year – or March 13 – the conditional pick becomes a third rounder.
Licht was asked last week at the NFL combine if he had approached Revis or his representatives about restructuring his contract to gain some salary cap relief?
“I know Lovie has reached out a few times but I’m not sure if we’ve connected,’’ Licht said. “Just like anybody’s contract, it’s an opportunity. But we really are still evaluating everything and part of that position is, what’s out there in the draft? What’s out there in free agency? What options do we have?
“I’m not saying we’re doing one thing or another. So it’s nothing that we’ve approached yet.’’
The Bucs, who currently are about $20-million under the projected salary cap, are expected to be active during free agency. Vikings defensive end Jared Allen and Bears cornerback Charles Tillman could draw interest from the Bucs.
However, dealing Revis would be difficult for the Bucs.
For starters, teams know Tampa Bay is in a tough spot from a salary cap standpoint with Revis occupying so much of the payroll on a 4-12 team with larger needs. Therefore, they might be reluctant to part with much in terms of compensation, especially anything remotely close to the first- and fourth-round picks the Bucs sent to the Jets for Revis.
Also, any trade may be contingent of Revis agreeing to a more cap friendly deal and some may view his $16-million salary as twice his market value.
Despite being limited in training camp and not playing in the preseason while recovering from ACL surgery, Revis played well for the Bucs last season. He started all 16 games, recording 50 tackles with two interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Although he may not have been the lockdown corner that earned him the nickname Revis Island, he was named to his fifth Pro Bowl. But his $16-million salary is roughly $6-million more than any cornerback in the NFL and the degree of interest in Revis could grow before the start of the new league year March 11.