It didn't take the Patriots long to change public perception.
After losing their top free agent Aqib Talib to the rival Denver Broncos on Tuesday, the Patriots responded a day later by signing Darrelle Revis to take his place. ESPN'sAdam Schefter reports the sides agreed on a one-year, $12 million deal, citing league sources.
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Not only was Bill Belichick able to fill Talib's spot at left cornerback, he did so with a significantly better player and in the process inked the highest-profile free agent in team history.
Revis, 28, is regarded by many as the best cornerback in football. Prior to tearing his ACL and missing most of the 2012 season he had gone to four straight Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro three times. He was also quite durable before the knee injury as he missed just three games between 2007-11 before tearing his ACL in Week 2 of 2012 in Miami.
The Jets dealt Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last offseason for first- and fourth-round picks, and the veteran corner turned in another solid season in the NFC South. He went to his fifth career Pro Bowl while playing in all 16 games and recording a pair of interceptions despite being used in mostly zone defenses, which do not play to his strengths as a cover corner.
The Bucs were faced with a deadline on Wednesday in which Revis was due a roster bonus that would have upped the compensation to the Jets to a third-round pick from a fourth-rounder, and his cap number would have been $16 million in 2014. Rather than pay that, Tampa released him, allowing the Patriots to swoop in and sign the best defensive player in football.
Revis is a true difference maker in the secondary and someone who can change games with his ability to patrol one side of the field. As a member of the Jets he often blanketed Randy Moss on the outside and forced Tom Brady to stay away from his most dangerous weapon for large stretches of games. When he's healthy and playing well, no one matches Revis' ability to shut down opposing wideouts – not even Seattle's Richard Sherman, who many believe is currently the best corner in the business.
In seven NFL seasons Revis has started all 95 games in which he's played and recorded 21 interceptions, three forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, 108 passes defensed and three touchdowns.