News came from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter this morning that Jets cornerback Darrell Revis had been granted permission to take a physical with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the latest development in the ongoing trade discussions between the two teams. A deal appears close -- if not imminent -- at this time, although specific compensation terms between the two teams and details of a new contract for Revis in Tampa Bay are yet unknown.
Operating under the assumption that the deal does in fact come to fruition, here are a few thoughts as it relates to the Patriots and the NFL as a whole.
1. To start, this is a monumental transaction. Trades in the NFL are relatively infrequent -- at least compared to its major-sport counterparts -- and especially trades that involve a player of this magnitude. There are many who believe (and count me in this group) that -- when healthy -- Revis is the best defensive player in football, regardless of position. He has virtually every trait desired in a prototypical cornerback, and he has the ability to dramatically influence a game week-in and week-out. He can take away an opponent's top receiver, which in turn improves the defense's pass rush as well. He has excellent ball skills, is a force with the football in his hands when he turns it over, and is a stout cornerback against the run to boot. For all those reasons, there's little debate that he was the Jets' best player on their roster.
2. From the simple standpoint that the Jets' roster loses its best talent, this is a positive for the Patriots. Revis performed at a high level against the Patriots, notching two interceptions in nine career games, but that figure alone doesn't tell the whole story. During the 2009 and 2010 seasons when the Jets reached the AFC Championship game, their defense showed itself capable of (at least on occasion) of slowing down the Patriots' passing attack. Revis played a big part in that, and not having to face a player of his caliber twice a season is something Bill Belichick and Tom Brady probably have no issue with. At the NFL owners meetings in March, Jets head coach Rex Ryan commented on the departure of Wes Welker to Denver, saying, "I'm just glad Wes Welker isn't there. I hated Wes Welker. I'm kidding ... kind of. Actually, I'm a huge fan of Wes Welker. He had historical success. That's some big shoes for (Amendola) to fill." Belichick could have similar feelings towards the Revis deal.
3. Unlike Welker leaving New England (save a possible compensatory pick in 2014), the Jets will receive compensation for Revis. The specifics of such compensation are not currently clear, but previous reports have indicated that the package will include multiple draft picks in either 2013, 2014 or both, one of which will almost assuredly be a first-rounder. Until we know the actual compensation, our scope of this trade isn't complete. Moreover, while the deal right now dampens the Jets' immediate future (and makes life tougher on coach Rex Ryan), it will give them building-block draft choices to rebuild their roster going forward. In a way, the Revis trade is another move that signifies the franchise's overhaul. While the Patriots remain among the NFL's elite, two teams in their division (Buffalo as well) look to be building from the ground up.
4. Echoing what Mike Reiss wrote earlier today, I was of the belief that the Jets would be better served to hold on to Revis and attempt to make them their franchise cornerstone going forward. Cornerbacks of his caliber are nearly impossible to come by, and while his contract demands may sound steep, the state of the salary cap may prevent him from landing such a deal anywhere. We'll find out soon if Tampa Bay is able to meet his desires.
5. It was hard to imagine a scenario in which the Jets would be competitive in 2013 with Revis on their roster, particularly with the roulette of mediocre quarterbacks currently in place. But we've seen more than a few instances of franchise turnarounds in the NFL, and there's little doubt that he would've helped that process along. While the Jets will have an opportunity to build the roster back up with the compensation they are likely to receive, there's little doubt that, right now, the team took a step back in talent. That's welcomed news in Foxborough.