About 10 or so years ago, it would have been taken as a “dream come true” had the Pittsburgh Steelers been able to use their first-round draft pick in the 2007 NFL Draft on local boy Darrelle Revis. Rookie Head Coach Mike Tomlin expressed his interest in the future All-Pro cornerback prior to the draft only to see him scooped up by the Jets a couple picks earlier.
Flash forward a decade and a couple of seasons of injury and decline and we find Revis back on the open market as a street free agent following the Jets’ releasing him after a reunion that saw him cash in three times with the Buccaneers, Patriots, and then the Jets again, raking in a wealth of income and a Super Bowl ring for his troubles.
The veteran defensive back had his day in court yesterday following an altercation in Pittsburgh earlier this year, during which he was cleared of all charges. While exiting the court room, Revis was predictably swarmed by reporters, and he fielded some questions about, among other things, his future in the league.
As we brought to you yesterday, he said that being able to play for the Steelers would be a “dream come true”. And for him, perhaps it would be. He spent a decade raking in the money and got his Super Bowl ring. There is very little left for him to accomplish professionally except, perhaps, to come on home as a returning hero.
But the reality is that such a union is more like than not to be less dream and more fantasy. While Revis’ decline may not be as precipitous as his 2016 statistics may bear out, the reality is that the Revis that the Steelers would be getting is a pale imitation of the perception.
If he is perhaps interested in coming in on the cheap to serve as depth and possibly a sub-package defender role, then there may be a reasonable conversation to be had. But nothing about his history suggests that he would be willing to come into the fold as a bargain option.
And anything less than that would simply not be feasible, just to make that abundantly clear. If the Steelers are even entertaining the notion of throwing at him the sort of money that they had ticketed for one of the top free agents in this market, then they are fooling themselves in their expectations.
As far as the remaining cornerback market goes, the list of remaining candidates who could even conceivably represent an actual upgrade from Ross Cockrell—who by the way has not signed his restricted free agent tender yet—is swiftly diminishing.
On the plus side, if you do happen to be in the Revis camp, he is already making money from the Jets to not play, so if anything could persuade him to play for a bargain salary, that would be the pitch. The fact of the matter is that he will make at least $6 million this year. The question then becomes, is he willing to play for nothing extra?
Here’s how that shakes out. There is offset language in the $6 million remaining in Revis’ guaranteed salary for 2017 stipulating that the Jets would be off the hook for up to that amount should he seek and find work elsewhere in the league. If he makes less than that from another team, the Jets make up the difference. If he makes more than that from another team, they pay nothing.
If he can’t find work for more than $6 million, he could sit out the season and collect. Frankly, the only realistic scenario I see of this playing out with Revis ending up on the Steelers’ roster is if he is willing to take veteran-minimum and collect the rest for the Jets.