Greg Schiano broke into the NFL as a defensive backs coach, so he knows the value of a shutdown cornerback. With rule changes that increasingly limit contact with receivers, football has become one of matchups — like basketball on grass.
That's why it is so important to have a player who can stick to a pass-catcher, shadowbox him down the field and break on the ball like paparazzi on a Kardashian.
"Any coach would tell you if you can take away the No. 1 receiver on a football team, it's going to make your job easier as a defense," the Bucs coach said. "Sure, they'll go to two, three or four (receivers). But (there is a) No. 1 for a reason. Each game you look at independently and the matchups that are in that game. The skill level is so close in this league that one or two key matchups are usually the determining factor in the game."
And that, in a nutshell, is why the Bucs want Darrelle Revis.
The Jets cornerback and three-time All-Pro is a transformative player.
It's more than just his 18 interceptions over his first five seasons. (He had one over two games last season before tearing his left ACL.)
Revis, 27, allows a defense to work Schiano's way. He prefers to play tough, pressure, man-to-man coverage with a single safety and a man free to blitz or play down in the tackle box.
A year ago, the Bucs had the worst pass defense in the NFL and fell just 38 yards shy of allowing the most in league history. They have done little to address cornerback during this offseason. Ronde Barber has not decided whether to return for a 17th season. Eric Wright, who was suspended four games last season, signed a one-year restructured contract.
Essentially, the Bucs have been waiting to see what happens with Revis, who routinely has locked up No. 1 receivers from Andre Johnson to Chad Johnson during their prime.
Schiano, a former Rutgers coach, has been familiar with Revis since the corner's days at fellow Big East school Pittsburgh. Bucs special teams coach Dave Wannstedt coached Revis at Pitt and has known him since his high school days in Aliquippa, Pa.
If the Bucs have their way, Revis will be wearing red and pewter before the draft, which begins Thursday. They are willing to send their 13th overall pick to the Jets — and likely another pick — for Revis. But they believe the Jets' reported asking price of a first-, third- and fifth-round pick is too high.
Jets general manager John Idzik won't address any trade talks involving Revis but said he is open to the idea.
"We would definitely look at any trade possibilities and see if it benefits the Jets," Idzik said.
The three-time All-Pro and can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the upcoming season, and his contract does not allow him to be designated a franchise player.
Jets owner Woody Johnson, according to media reports out of New York, is reluctant to sign Revis to a long-term extension, which doesn't leave many options: deal him before the season, deal him before October's trading deadline or let him play and receive what likely would be a third-round compensatory pick if he signs elsewhere.
But with only a few days left before the draft, Bucs general manager Mark Dominik has a couple of questions to wrestle with as well: Is this the right time to pull the trigger on such a deal? Will Revis be the same player after tearing his ACL?
The Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, never has been reticent about making dynamic trades. In 2000, it traded two first-round picks to the Jets for receiver Keyshawn Johnson. In 2002, it dealt two first-round picks, two second-round picks and $8 million to the Raiders for coach Jon Gruden. Both helped the Bucs to a Super Bowl XXXVII victory.
A year ago, the club spent heavily in free agency, signing Wright, receiver Vincent Jackson and guard Carl Nicks. As of last week, the Bucs were $32.8 million under the salary cap, second to the Browns' $33.6 million. The team seems willing to pay Revis about $15 million per year, and chairman Joel Glazer has said he would support any move to make the team better.
Last week, Revis was examined by Giants team doctor Russell Warren, who performed his ACL surgery, and told he can run without restriction. About $3 million of Revis' $5 million salary is tied to him to attending 80 percent of offseason workouts.
The question for the Bucs: Will Revis be Revis? They might need several days before a trade to examine him but truly won't know how well he has recovered until the regular season.
The success of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 2,097 yards a year after tearing his left ACL, has set the bar high.
"You can only use history as a predictor," Schiano said. "As of late, that's been the case. But you can never lose sight that every individual is different."
But Bill Polian, the former Bills, Panthers and Colts general manager now an ESPN analyst, believes it's a tough trade to execute.
"It's very difficult to … reach a compensation level that makes everyone happy when I don't know what the players' prognosis is," Polian said. "Everybody is always ahead of schedule, and you don't know until you see him on the field. And even then, it's difficult to tell in the preseason because it's not the same speed as the regular season.
"I understand the reluctance."
Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud @tampabay.com and heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-620.