When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released Darrelle Revis in March 2014 it did not take the Pro Bowl cornerback long to find a new home: the New England Patriots signed him just hours after he hit the free agent market.
Revis had an outstanding season in New England, winning his first Super Bowl, while also being named to the Pro Bowl and the Associated Press' All-Pro team. However, entering the 2015 offseason, his future with the Patriots is in question due to his contract.
After Revis hit free agency, he and the Patriots agreed on a two-year, $32.0 million contract, which was basically a one-year $12.0 million deal with a second-year option to spread out the cap hit. Therefore, in 2014, Revis counted only $7.0 against the Patriots' salary cap. Should the team decide to exercise the second year option prior to the start of the 2015 league year (March 10, 4 p.m. ET), the 29-year old would hit the team's books with $25.0 million.
What can the Patriots therefore do with Darrelle Revis and his contract?
As is the case with every option-based deal, the team has three possibilities: exercise the option, cut the player or extend him.
The first and easiest scenario is if the Patriots simply pick up Revis' option and the $25.0 million cap hit that goes along with it. While, judging by the numbers, it seems as if this is too high of a number for the Patriots' liking, there have been reports that the team would exercise the option, if no contract extension can be reached by March 10. If this should be the case, the Patriots, on the one hand, would have Revis under contract in 2015 and have another year to work on a possible extension. On the other hand, however, they would need to look elsewhere (Vince Wilfork? Jerod Mayo?) for the money to re-sign core players Devin McCourty and Stephen Gostkowski.
The second option, the team has, is simply releasing Revis prior to the start of the new league year. By doing so, the Patriots would have net cap savings of $19.5 million in 2015. However, Revis would still count $5.0 million against the team's salary cap because of his signing bonus proration. Due to the economics of the situation and Revis being an integral part of the Patriots defense, releasing the All-Pro seems like an unlikely scenario.
The third, and most preferable option, is extending Darrelle Revis. In his article Crafting a Contract Extension for Darrelle Revis and the New England Patriots, patscap.com's Miguel Benzan proposes various different deals, the team could offer the player. Miguel's favorite one is a three-year extension worth a maximum of $45.0 million with cap hits of $15.0 million each year as well as a $15.0 million signing bonus. While the Patriots and Revis need to find a common ground during negotiations, keeping the cornerback in Foxborough makes sense for both: the Patriots employ a defensive scheme that allows Revis to play to his strengths (as opposed to Revis' former team, the Buccaneers), while he, on the other hand, offers New England the shutdown corner that allows the team to mix and match its coverages.
One of the Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's favorite press conference answers is "we do what we think is best for the team". Keeping Darrelle Revis – arguably the best cornerback in the NFL – in New England looks like the best for the team. The question is, if the team and the player can work through the financial aspect and agree on a deal that satisfies both parties involved.
If you were the Patriots, what would you do with Darrelle Revis and his contract this offseason?