The New England Patriots would like to find a way to keep CB Malcolm Butler on a long-term deal, but if extension talks fall through and the New Orleans Saints offer a big enough trade package to acquire Butler, then head coach Bill Belichick the Patriots will be left with a possible hole on the roster.
Newcomer Stephon Gilmore is the top cornerback on the roster, and Eric Rowe, Cyrus Jones, Jonathan Jones, and Justin Coleman would fill out the depth chart. Losing Butler puts a dent in the depth chart, but league executives believe that Darrelle Revis could be the solution.
“Numerous league sources, including some close to Revis, believe that if the potential future Hall of Fame corner plays anywhere in 2017 it will be for the Patriots,” according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.
“We did our work on him,” One executive told La Canfora about his evaluation of Revis. “He can still play. He can cover. He doesn’t have that long speed anymore; he’s not going to cover a No. 1 receiver deep. But he can cover in tight spaces and he has great instincts. The film is not as bad as some would have you believe. He’s a perfect fit in that quarters scheme Belichick runs, and they have the kind of safeties who can help him out, too. We’re convinced he’s going back to New England. It just makes too much sense.”
The Jets have to pay Revis $6 million in 2017, with whatever contract Revis signs offsetting that $6 million (so if the Patriots pay Revis $2 million, then the Jets are only on the hook for $4 million).
Revis could present an extremely team-friendly contract in 2017 with the Jets paying for him to play in New England, and have the contract structured with an option for more money in 2018 and 2019.
La Canfora suggests that the Patriots might offer Revis a 2-3 year deal with the possibility of turning him into a safety down the road. Revis could be a viable #2 cornerback if he gets back into shape after battling a wrist problem (he claims he’s already lost 10 pounds), but that’s where he’s likely limited. Belichick reportedly doesn’t think Revis has the skill set to be a safety.
But having Revis as a #2 cornerback is a pretty good place to be. He was a top 5 cornerback for the first half of 2015 for the Jets prior to suffering his wrist injury that derailed his season. He blamed the injury for falling out of shape at the start of the 2016 season, but he worked himself back into shape as the year wore on.
Over the back stretch of the 2016 season, he was playing like a low-level #1 cornerback again, per Pro Football Focus.
To clarify, Revis is no longer Revis Island. He is worse than what he was in 2014 when he won Super Bowl XLIX with the Patriots. He is a downgrade from Malcolm Butler. He is not worth the $14 million per year he signed with the Jets.
But he’s still a viable starter and could be a high-end #2 cornerback, just like Logan Ryan was in 2015 and 2016. If Revis is willing to take a big paycut, then he could still contribute to a high-quality Patriots defense.