Trading for Darrelle Revis is pushing all the chips to the middle of the table for Bucs GM Mark Dominik and coach Greg Schiano, especially considering the Jets cornerback still is recovering from a torn left ACL.
The Bucs, according to various media reports, are willing to part with their first- and second-round pick in 2014 (the Jets would like a first-rounder in next month's draft) and pay the three-time All-Pro $15 million per season.
It's a crazy, ridiculously expensive, risky proposition. And you know what? It might be worth the gamble.
The Bucs haven't reached the postseason in five years. They haven't won a playoff game in 10.
Sometimes, teams make bold, dynamic moves to push them over the top. Need proof? Look no further than the Bucs.
After the 2001 season, having fired coach Tony Dungy despite making the playoffs four times in six seasons, the Glazer family dealt two first-round picks, two second-rounders and $8 million to the Raiders for coach Jon Gruden.
Granted, that team had a Super Bowl-ready defense. It also benefited from a trade with the Jets prior to the 2000 season, acquiring WR Keyshawn Johnson for two first-round picks.
In essence, the Bucs mortgaged a huge piece of their future in exchange for a Lombardi Trophy.
Revis, 27, might not push the Bucs from 7-9 to a confetti shower in February. But the draft also has a large failure rate. That might be more true when you pick 13th overall, as the Bucs do this year. If they select a defensive back, they will pray he's 70 percent as good as Revis.
"I think anybody would like to have, theoretically, guys you think can be shutdown corners," Dominik said. "Those are really hard to find. They are rare, so that makes them an interesting commodity.
"We go into the draft every year, and everybody thinks maybe that's the guy. But there's very few of them, and when they come out, it's pretty noticeable who they are. The other guys are good and solid and dependable, but they never get to that elite status because they're just so hard to find."
Said Schiano: "Any coach would tell you if you take away the No. 1 receiver on a football team, it will make your job easier."
Teams have become more reluctant to give up draft picks because of the rookie salary cap. The guaranteed money is significantly lower under the new labor deal, guaranteeing four seasons of reasonable salary cap hits. Furthermore, no team will want to rent Revis, who can become a free agent after this season. So he can refuse to negotiate a long-term deal and, thus, block a trade.
On the other hand, Revis' contract prevents the Jets from designating him their franchise player, so they run the risk of getting nothing for him if he remains in New York.
On March 1, the Jets paid Revis a $1 million roster bonus. Additional $1 million payments are due this summer. One is at the end of June if Revis completes 83 percent of his offseason workouts and 85 percent of organized team activities. Another is due when the Jets report to training camp. His base salary for 2013 is $3 million.
If the Jets are serious about trading Revis — and the Bucs have their doubts — it will most likely happen before the draft.
BUCS DONE? With free agency slowing to a trickle, most teams are busy evaluating the draft. Schiano said fans should not be worried about the slow pace of signings by the Bucs. "It would be uncomfortable if we didn't have a plan," he said. "I think we have a plan. Do plans always come off 100 percent to design? No, but we have good, young players, and we're going to continue to pursue guys in free agency. We're going to draft well, and that's how we're going to build our team."
ROOKIES PLAY: Revis or no Revis, the team plans to draft a cornerback (or two), and Schiano has no problem playing them as rookies. "In this day and age, I think the guys coming out of college are very well-prepared. And I think our coaches are excellent teachers, so I have no issues playing rookies," he said. "Our first three picks (last season) played 48 games. We'll do that again, God willing."