The Jets may cut Darrelle Revis this offseason. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
Two years ago, talking heads across the sports radio dial lambasted Bill Belichick for allowing Darrelle Revis to sign with the Jets in free agency. But now, all of the rage seems foolish. Letting Revis walk was one of the best decisions Belichick has ever made.
The latest lowlight for Revis came last weekend, when he may have knocked out two men during an early morning fight in Pittsburgh. According to police, the now-washed up cornerback had an altercation with two men who recognized him and approached him at 2:43 a.m. Sunday. One of them took out a cell phone and started recording Revis, who took the device and threw it onto the street. An unidentified male then came to Revis’ aid. The 22-year-old and 21-year-old victims say they were knocked unconscious shortly thereafter. Their story is corroborated by witnesses.
Revis, 31, is facing charges of robbery, terroristic threats, conspiracy and aggravated assault. His attorney, Blaine Jones, told the NFL Network Thursday Revis wasn’t the aggressor.
Long before last Sunday’s scuffle, Belichick’s decision to discard Revis was vindicated. Some say that happened the moment the Jets signed the veteran corner to a five-year, $70 million deal with $39 million guaranteed –– an obscene contract the Patriots would’ve never forked over.
After showing some signs of regression in 2015, Revis became a liability last season. It started Week 1, when Bengals wideout A.J. Green burned him for 12 catches and 180 yards. His performance didn’t get any better from there. The following week, he was torched by little-known Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin for an 84-yard touchdown pass in prime time on Thursday Night Football. On and on it went.
During his lone season with the Patriots, Revis was a lockdown No. 1 corner. Quarterbacks who targeted him in 2014 were 33 of 76 (43.4%) for 523 yards, two touchdowns, four interceptions and a 53.8 rating. That stellar play is a big reason why the Patriots steamrolled their competition in the second half of the year and won Super Bowl XLIX.
Letting Revis leave that offseason was bold, especially because the Patriots replaced him with Malcolm Butler. The undrafted rookie made the game-winning interception in Super Bowl XLIX, but was still relatively untested. But now, two years later, he’s one of the best cornerbacks in the game. Revis, meanwhile, was picked apart all season long in 2016. Quarterbacks who targeted him last season posted a passer-rating north of 100.
For the price of $600,000, Butler vastly outperformed Revis and his $17 million base salary. Beat writers are now calling for the Jets to cut Revis outright, and eat the $6 million they still owe him.
The way Belichick played the Revis situation is a reminder the Patriots’ dynasty is about more than Tom Brady. That kind of deft personnel management –– signing Revis to an one-year, $12 million deal with $20 million team option so he could rebuild his value –– is a big reason why the Patriots have been able to stay on top for 15 years.
Belichick preaches the importance of value. The way he handled Revis embodies his brilliant team building philosophy.