The New England Patriots have declined to pick up the $20 million option on Darrelle Revis’s contract, making the four-time All-Pro cornerback an unrestricted free agent. Had New England elected to pick up the option, Revis’s 2015 salary cap hit would have been $25 million, which would have greatly hindered the team’s ability to be active in free agency. While it was always widely assumed that the Patriots would decline the option – team president Jonathan Kraft had gone as far as calling the option nothing more than a “placeholder” – the majority of the teams and executives around the league fully expected the two sides to reach an agreement on an extension before the start of free agency. With Ndamukong Suh reportedly headed to the Miami Dolphins, Revis is now the clear-cut best player available on the free agent market.
Multiple teams are already preparing to make a run at the 29-year-old free agent cornerback, including his former team, the New York Jets. The Patriots will main pitch will continue to center around the allure of winning Super Bowl rings, but there are several teams that have the salary cap space to blow any contract offer from Bill Belichick’s crew out of the water. Since establishing himself as one of the best defensive players in the game, Revis has always been hung up on seeking out a contract that pays $16 million per season. It’s a big reason why his 2015 option was so astronomically large — his contract with the Patriots was for two years and $32 million to be exact – and it’s an amount that he will have multiple teams on the free agency market willing to pay him.
With the news that New England will also be letting Brandon Browner test his value in free agency, most people would assume that retaining Revis would be Belichick’s top priority. By now we all know that Belichick does not think like most people. He is going to do what he believes is best for his team and won’t think twice about moving on from a player as talented as Revis.
It would be a complete shocker if the Patriots did not bring back at least one of their starting cornerbacks from the 2014 season. The gamble the team took on Browner paid off in a big way once the 6-foot-4 corner returned from his four-game suspension to start the season. While he was nowhere near being an elite level player, Browner’s size did give the Patriots the ability to matchup well against the bigger wide receivers around the league. Signing Revis was much less of a gamble. The Patriots knew they were getting a guy with a Hall of Fame resume, and in turn, Revis did not disappoint. By the end of the season, the pair of Browner and Revis gave the Patriots one of the top cornerback duos in all of football.
One factor that could throw a wrinkle into the negotiations with Revis is Devin McCourty. The 27-year-old safety just inked a five-year, $47.5 million extension with the team that ate up a lot of the Patriots’ salary cap space. Belichick and the New England personnel staff are as good as any group in the league at finding creative ways to make contracts work, but if they can’t find the money to make Revis a competitive offer, then the six-time Pro Bowler may have a short-lived career with the New England Patriots.