Oakland Raiders: Darrelle Revis

Three years ago, I stood in the Hawaiian sun at the Pro Bowl and asked then-New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis about the possibility of then-Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha joining him in the Meadowlands.

Three years later, Revis, a five-time Pro Bowler now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has been linked to the Raiders in trade talks. But while Asomugha has retired after stints in Philadelphia and San Francisco, Revis could team with another cornerback for whom Oakland has high hopes -- last year’s top draft pick, D.J. Hayden.

Indeed, Hayden, who had a truncated rookie season that began with him still recovering from his near-death heart injury and ended early with a groin injury, would benefit from a stay on Revis Island.

The Buccaneers are expected to cut Revis, who is due a $1.5 million roster bonus on Wednesday, if they cannot find a trade partner, per ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Plus, the 2014 fourth-round draft pick the Buccaneers sent to New York last year as part of the package for Revis becomes a third-rounder if he is on Tampa Bay’s roster at 4:01 p.m. ET Wednesday. And with Revis making $16 million per year, the Raiders, with so much cap space, could afford such a hit.

What package could the Raiders send to Tampa Bay? It probably starts with the Raiders’ first-round pick, No. 5 overall. (The Buccaneers sent the No. 13 overall pick to New York last year in the Revis deal, while the Raiders used the 12th overall selection on Hayden.) But Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has said he likes his picks and sensible contracts, so that seems counter-intuitive, no?

No doubt Raiders coach Dennis Allen, a former secondary coach with the New Orleans Saints, would love to throw a defensive backfield featuring Revis and an improved Hayden at opposing teams.

And in a strange twist, acquiring Revis would be a nod toward the old-school Raider way -- Al Davis believed in building a team through its cornerbacks.
It’s New Year’s Day, Black Friday and the season premiere of "The Price is Right," all wrapped in one silver and black package, with Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie channeling his inner Bob Barker.

Even if the Raiderettes were Barker’s Beauties and Oakland’s 17 scheduled unrestricted free agents were mixed and matched as the prizes in a showcase showdown, McKenzie has yet to show his hand as he sits with close to $65 million in salary-cap space. Even as Pro Bowl fullback Marcel Reece implored his general manager to eschew “safe moves” in favor of “smart, calculated, fearless, Raider-ass moves” when free agency begins today at 1 p.m. PT.

Thus far, the Raiders’ two biggest free agents, left tackle Jared Veldheer and defensive end Lamarr Houston, have been linked to the Arizona Cardinals and Chicago Bears, respectively. Oakland, meanwhile, has been reportedly kicking the tires on St. Louis Rams offensive lineman Rodger Saffold and Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, while many see the Raiders as being interested in picking up cornerback Darrelle Revis if and when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut him.

McKenzie, meanwhile, maintained his position: “What I want to do is make this team better. And that’s what we’re going to set out to do this Tuesday and really, not waiting until Tuesday but, just with our own team, just trying to get things done. We want to upgrade this football team and we intend to do that.”

Speaking at the Commitment to Excellence Dinner, which honored Reece on Saturday night, McKenzie pointed to the re-signing of offensive lineman Khalif Barnes and re-upping special-teams ace Taiwan Jones as steps in that direction.

“That’s why it’s important to keep those good players,” McKenzie said. “Khalif, the worker he is, Taiwan is here to support Marcel, and, of course, Marcel. Those are the type of guys, they know the whole Raider [way], the direction we want to go. So we want the guys to be positive for everybody in that locker room.”

True, but which guys, exactly? McKenzie’s patient approach the past two seasons was exacerbated by the Raiders needing to shed salary. Now? These are unchartered waters for the third-year GM, what with so much cap space.

But keep this in mind: He said two years ago that, even with so much cap space, that did not mean he would be shopping at Macy’s. And in January he said, “Just because I have $5 in my pocket, that doesn’t mean I have to spend all of it ... on junk.”

Reggie McKenzie, come on down ...