Although the Patriots will be raising one in September, yesterday was NOT a banner day in New England history. What was the strength of last year's defense is now lacing up his cleats at MetLife Stadium again and the Patriots are in a position where they need to find a starting cornerback, possibly two. These were the words Patriots fans were dreading:
Darrelle Revis has returned to the New York Jets.
In the words of Bill Belichick, it is what it is. Everyone who roots for, played for, and is part of the New England organization is extremely disappointed to see the most talented defensive back they ever acquired leave after one magical season. The Patriots secondary was special with Revis, but without him, they're decent. Decent doesn't win Super Bowls, as Patriots fans learned over the ten years they lost in the playoffs after letting Ty Law walk away and sign with the Jets in 2005.
Patriots apologists, who are out in full force right now, will tell you that the money was too much and they simply didn't have the cap room to make it work, but the truth is if the Patriots wanted to keep him, they could have. New England chose to stick to their model and never overpay for one player, which has made them consistently good, but has caused some problems when they don't have enough talent to get over the top in the playoffs.
The contract that the tampering New York Jets gave Revis is ridiculous, but that's what Hall of Fame cornerbacks get paid, especially when they still have at least three great years left. Revis signed a five year, $70 million dollar contract with $39 million guaranteed, which is paid out over the first three years of the deal. In the final two "fake years", Revis would have a salary of $11 million per season, but knowing Revis, if he is still going strong at 33, he will demand a new deal or ask to be released.
The Jets frontloaded the deal to make it even harder for the Patriots to match because they simply don't have a lot of cap space. Contrary to popular opinion, the Patriots spend to the cap and when you are trying to keep a Super Bowl roster intact and your up against the wall, there is always a chance you are going to lose good players. Again, New England could have found a way to make it work cap-wise, but Belichick and Kraft didn't think Revis was worth what he was asking and they didn't want to risk future years when they have guys like Hightower and Chandler Jones to deal with. They came close, which makes it even more frustrating, but they couldn't get there in the end.
It's important to note that Revis wanted to return to New York, so that made this negotiation even tougher for New England. Yes, he was willing to stay with the Patriots, but they were going to have to match what the Jets offered, and that just wasn't going to happen. Revis, in the end, was a one-year rental of a great player who helped a franchise accomplish what they have been looking for-a fourth championship. Revis did the same thing- he leveraged a strong year and got paid by the team he started with and never wanted to leave in the first place, not to mention he grabbed a Super Bowl ring along the way. It is painful for the Patriots and their fans because we got see to how great the Patriots are with Revis, and now it is over as quickly as it began.
In a strange way, Revis may have eased the hatred between the two because Patriots fans have no right to boo the man; he helped you win another title, and now he's played with the guys on the other side. There is going to be more of a mutual respect between the two than hatred, and that changes the dynamic of this rivalry, a rivalry that is going to heat up because the Jets just got a lot better when they brought their All-Pro cornerback back to the organization he flourished in for six years.Take solace Patriot fans, Revis may be a Jet again, but you'll always have 2014.