TAMPA, Fla. — Revis Island is relocating to Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers took a bold move to fix the NFL’s worst pass defense Sunday, acquiring star cornerback Darrelle Revis from the New York Jets in exchange for the 13th overall pick in this year’s draft and another selection next year.
“We’re thrilled. It’s rare that you get a chance to add a player of this caliber to your football team. That’s what motivated us,” general manager Mark Dominik said, adding he would withhold further comment until a Monday news conference at the team’s training facility.
The Bucs announced the deal Sunday, saying Revis agreed to a new six-year contract. Revis’ agents Neil Schwartz and Jon Feinsod confirmed the deal is worth $96 million, with no guaranteed money, but makes him one of the highest-paid defensive players in the NFL. It includes $1.5 million annually in both roster and workout bonuses.
The Jets also receive a conditional fourth-round pick in next year’s draft that will become a third-rounder if Revis is on the Buccaneers’ roster on the third day of the 2014 league year.
The trade was completed about two hours after Revis arrived in Tampa by private jet to take a physical for the Bucs, who wanted to check out his surgically repaired left knee.
Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano drove his car onto the tarmac to meet the plane, greeted Revis and whisked the cornerback away to One Buccaneer Place. Soon after, the front page of the Buccaneers’ official website posted a big picture of Revis in what appears to be a Tampa Bay jersey with the words: “Treasure Island. Darrelle Revis (CB). It’s a Bucs Life.”
Tampa Bay opens the season at — that’s right — the Jets.
Trade talk had been swirling for months involving Revis, with the Bucs thought all along to be the most serious suitor. In addition to having a leaky secondary, Tampa Bay was more than $32 million under the salary cap before landing a player generally regarded as the best cornerback in football.
Coach Rex Ryan’s Jets currently have the ninth overall pick in the draft that starts Thursday, and now the 13th pick, so new general manager John Idzik will be busy early in the first round.
The trade leaves Antonio Cromartie as the Jets’ top cornerback, a role he flourished in last season with Revis sidelined by a knee injury. And 2010 first-rounder Kyle Wilson mostly likely would be stepping in as the other starter.
The Jets could also target a cornerback — perhaps Alabama’s Dee Milliner or Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes — in the first round.
For the Bucs, adding Revis improves a secondary that already includes cornerback Eric Wright and safeties Mark Barron and recently signed Dashon Goldson, an All-Pro last season in San Francisco. Tampa Bay finished last in pass defense last season, coming within 38 yards of allowing the most yardage through the air in league history.
The 27-year-old Revis was entering the last season of his four-year contract signed in 2010, but was looking for a big payday that would make him one of the highest-paid defensive players in the league. A clause in that deal prevented the Jets from using the franchise or transition tag on him next year, so if he likely would have become a free agent in 2014.
As the Jets weighed whether to try to sign him to a contract extension, lose him to free agency next offseason or deal him for high draft picks, Revis was the subject of rampant trade rumors since last season ended. Complicating things was the fact Revis is coming off a serious injury. Revis tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last September against Miami, and underwent surgery the next month. He has been rehabbing since, and has indicated in interviews he expects to be ready for the start of the regular season.
Against his former team.