TAMPA — Teams have contacted the Bucs about trading for Darrelle Revis and many believe the Pro Bowl cornerback could be dealt by March 11, the start of the league year.
Though 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. That would allow improvement in other areas while potentially netting more draft picks.
Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports, who first reported the interest in Revis on Tuesday, said rival executives believe a deal is 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 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, occupies a huge chunk of the projected $132 million salary cap in 2014 that the Bucs could use to net more free agents.
Because there is no acceleration on the salary cap if Revis is traded or released, the Bucs could clear space to address needs, such as both lines, and get a draft pick or two. The Bucs own the No. 7 overall pick in May's 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.
In April, the Bucs traded the 13th overall pick in 2013 and a conditional fourth-round selection in 2014 to the Jets 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 — 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 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 are about $20 million under the projected cap, are expected to be active during free agency. Vikings defensive end Jared Allen and Bears cornerback Charles Tillman could draw interest from Tampa Bay.
But dealing Revis could be difficult. For starters, teams know Tampa Bay is in a tough spot from a cap standpoint with Revis occupying so much payroll on a 4-12 team with larger needs. Also, any trade may be contingent on Revis agreeing to a more cap-friendly deal.
Despite being limited in training camp and not playing in the preseason while recovering from ACL surgery, Revis played well last season. He started every game and had 50 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Though he might not have been the lockdown corner as when he earned 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.
Hernandez incident: Former Patriots and Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez was involved in an altercation in prison on Tuesday, Bristol County (Mass.) Sheriff Thomas Hodgson confirmed to Rhode Island television station WJAR. TMZ first reported that Hodgson said Hernandez "beat up" a fellow inmate.
Around the league: Panthers offensive tackle Jordan Gross, who played his third Pro Bowl last month, is retiring after spending his entire 11-year career with Carolina.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.