"The time was right," general manager Mark Dominik said Monday, the day after he pulled off a trade with the New York Jets for Revis. "We want to be back in the playoffs. We want to win championships."
That may sound like overly ambitious optimism for a franchise that hasn’t been to the playoffs since the 2007 season and hasn’t won a postseason game since it won the Super Bowl a little more than 10 years ago.
After signing Revis to a six-year, $96 million contract, it no longer can be said that ownership is too cheap. The argument that the Bucs are too young doesn’t work anymore. Thanks to a series of early draft picks, they’ve stockpiled a core group of talent that needs to produce more than it has.
"Yes, I think we’re a playoff team, even before [the trade]," Revis said. "I’m just adding a piece."
A huge piece.
Revis suddenly solidifies a secondary that was one of the main reasons the Bucs went from a 6-4 start to a 7-9 season last year. There are all sorts of bright spots in the front seven (Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, Adrian Clayborn). On offense, running back Doug Martin had a great rookie year. Receiver Vincent Jackson was worth every penny the Bucs paid him. The offensive line could be great with guards Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks returning from injuries.
With Darrelle Revis, Bucs coach Greg Schiano should see heavy improvement in a pass defense that was the NFL's worst in 2012.
There are a lot of pieces already in place.
"They’re all maturing at the same time," Dominik said. "They’re all in their early 20s or their late 20s. We have guys that have been to the Pro Bowl in this organization now. They’ve been voted by their peers as elite players. For us to get Darrelle Revis, our thought was it’s an opportunity to have the elite player at a position of much need for our team. To me, I’d rather spend it this way and make sure we walk out with a player that we do believe in and make sure that can be an impact starter for our football team and really change us as a defense."
Yes, the Bucs had to part with the 13th overall pick in this year’s draft for Revis. They also gave the Jets a fourth-round pick in 2014 that could become a third-round pick.
The Bucs took all that into consideration before making the final decision to make the trade. They looked back at the past six or seven drafts and they looked at the players taken around No. 13. How many non-quarterbacks did they see who made the kind of impact Revis has made?
"You could almost count them on one hand," Dominik said.
As he did last year when signing Jackson and Nicks and this year when signing safety Dashon Goldson, Dominik talked about Revis as "rare" and "unique." That’s not a cliché. That’s a reality.
Revis is a rare and unique player, assuming he comes back at full strength after suffering a major knee injury last season. Revis and the team said his health won’t be an issue.
Plug a healthy Revis into the lineup and the Bucs have a different look.
"If you have a player that can match up with the other team’s best receiver, there are a lot of things you can do schematically," coach Greg Schiano said.
With Revis shutting down one side of the field, the Bucs can afford to be more aggressive with their blitzes. That should be a tremendous boost for a defense that was No. 31 overall and No. 32 against the pass.
"He doesn’t have to do it alone," Schiano said. "He’s got a good supporting cast."
There’s one member of that supporting cast who wasn’t mentioned above. That’s quarterback Josh Freeman.
He’s heading into a contract year after a season that was filled with peaks and valleys. More than anything, the Bucs need Freeman to be consistently good.
That’s part of the reason the Bucs brought in Revis. In theory, he’ll create turnovers and field position that will help Freeman and the offense. In theory, the Bucs now have everything they need to be a playoff team.
"We have one goal," Schiano said. "To win championships. That’s it."
That is it. It’s time for the Bucs to be winners. The futures of Dominik, Schiano and Freeman depend on that. The future of the Bucs depends on that.
With Revis on the roster, the future looks a lot brighter. There is no more room for excuses.
"We’re going to make a lot of noise," Revis said. "Don’t worry about that."