Revis: The Trickle-Down Effect

USA TODAY Sports

Now that one of the league's premier defensive players is dealt away from the AFC East, could the New England Patriots suddenly boast the division's best secondary?

If it were up to me, I'd have Darrelle Revis marooned on an island. You could name it Revis Island. Don't steal that one.

That way, he'd be permanently removed from single-handedly eliminating a team's top receiver on a weekly basis; it's as if the opposing wideout never bothered to throw on a uniform and opted instead to warm the bench. But from the perspective of the New England Patriots, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have to be a suitable landing spot. They'll only see him every few years in the regular season or just in the Super Bowl as a possible NFC champion. I suppose it still somewhat alludes to water and shipwrecks (Jets).

In the one fell swoop it took for the New York Jets to exchange their star-studded cornerback for a treasure trove of draft picks, the AFC East breathes a heavy sigh of relief and re-examines their respective depth charts going in to the 2013 season. Those question marks surrounding each team's receiving corps suddenly aren't so glaring with Revis' name exempt.

And the ones surrounding the secondaries? Out of the settling dust a surprising challenger emerges, and one that has somewhat comically tragically fielded some of the most beleaguered groups in the history of the National Football League.

While the AFC East has been thoroughly picked through by the free agency vultures, the New England Patriots have managed to retain many of their valuable pieces after coming on strong at the tail end of the 2012 season. The acquisition of Aqib Talib during the second half was a big part of that, and the at-home drubbing at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens could also be attributed to Talib.; he left with an injury and did not return, flummoxing the defense for the remainder of the game.

If New England were to have any sustained success among their cornerbacks and safeties, they'd need to establish some consistency at those positions first. After avoiding headlines for the most part during the entertainment spectacle that is free agency, the Patriots comfortably and quietly assembled a group that looks to be markedly improved and decidedly familiar. There aren't any big names or jaw-dropping acquisitions to check off, but taking care of business on the team's own end may just be good enough to stand out in a division that's been absolutely gutted in that department:

Buffalo Bills:

Signed/Added: CB Leodis McKelvin (4-year, $20M deal)

S Jairus Byrd (Franchise Tag)

Lost: S George Wilson (2-year, $4M deal with TEN)

Free Agents: CB Terrence McGee

Projected Depth Chart:

LCB Aaron Williams Nickel Leodis McKelvin RCB Stephon Gilmore

FS Jairus Byrd SS Da'Norris Searcy

New York Jets:

Signed/Added: None

Lost: S LaRon Landry (4-year, $24M deal with IND)

S Yeremiah Bell (1-year, $905K deal with ARZ)

CB Darrelle Revis (6-year, $96M deal with TB)

Free Agents: S Eric Smith

Projected Depth Chart:

LCB Kyle Wilson Nickel Isaiah Trufant RCB Antonio Cromartie

FS Josh Bush SS Antonio Allen

Miami Dolphins:

Signed/Added: S Chris Clemons (1-year, $2.75M deal)

CB Brent Grimes (1-year, $5.5M deal)

Lost: CB Sean Smith (3-year, $18M deal with KC)

S Jonathon Amaya (1-year, $630K deal with AZ)

CB Bryan McCann (1-year, $630K deal with AZ)

Free Agents:

Projected Depth Chart:

LCB Brent Grimes Nickel Jimmy Wilson RCB Richard Marshall

FS Chris Clemons SS Reshad Jones

New England Patriots:

Signed/Added: CB Kyle Arrington (4-year, $16M deal)

S Adrian Wilson (3-year, $5M deal)

CB Aqib Talib (1-year, $5M deal)

CB Marquice Cole (1-year, $750K)

Lost: S Patrick Chung (3-year, $10M deal with PHI)

Free Agents: CB Will Allen

S Derrick Martin

Projected Depth Chart:

LCB Aqib Talib Nickel Kyle Arrington RCB Alfonzo Dennard

FS Devin McCourty SS Adrian Wilson

When looking at each defensive backfield, the Patriots boast the most favorable veteran/youth mix that most head coaches are typically fond of. While the talent in the secondary has certainly been there at times when looking at years past, the communication has seemingly been an endless struggle which the acquisition of S Adrian Wilson should help remedy. The Patriots dodged a bullet in regards to Alfonzo Dennard's off-field court proceedings as they retain one of their most effective corners with plenty of ceiling left for 2013. With Devin McCourty a year wiser at a safety position (where he's flashed brilliance at times) and Ras-I Dowling as an intriguing wild card (if he can stay on the field), the secondary looks to be on the verge of a breakout year.

Talent-wise, you'd have to give the nod to the Buffalo Bills. CB Stephon Gilmore flashed plenty of promise during his rookie campaign and S Jairus Byrd is the cream of the crop among AFC East safeties. It's an undoubtedly young group, but one that looks to have all the integral pieces in place. The pressure could cause some premature cracking when taking into account Buffalo's shaky quarterback foundation and the inability to preserve drives on offense.

The Dolphins and Jets have taken the most significant hits in the offseason. While Miami did a commendable job in filling the void left by a departing Sean Smith, many questions remain as to whether Brent Grimes can stay healthy after missing significant time in 2011 with a knee injury and 2012 with a torn Achilles The Jets look to be big players in the draft as they start to rebuild a demolished defensive backfield. CB Antonio Cromartie did an admirable job of providing shut-down duties in the absence of an injured Darrelle Revis last season, but there isn't much glue to be had beyond that as both starting safeties found homes with other teams.

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