It’s been a little more than one week since the NFL’s free agency period began in earnest, and already there has been a lot of movement among defensive backs.
Risk-taking, playmaking cornerback Janoris Jenkins went from St. Louis to Los Angeles (when the Rams relocated) to New York (signing with the Giants). All-Pro safety Eric Weddle almost went from San Diego to L.A. via relocation, but the Chargers stayed home and Weddle ended up finding a new home in Baltimore. Sean Smith went from Kansas City to Oakland and Tyvon Branch went from Kansas City to Arizona, significantly changing the look of the Chiefs’ secondary, one of the NFL’s best in 2015. And Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes stayed in-state, going from Miami to Tampa Bay.
But by the time all of the contracts have been signed and the 2016 NFL season gets underway, the most significant secondary move could be the one where Darrelle Revis, a future Hall of Famer, moves from cornerback to safety for the New York Jets.
Revis, who turns 31 years old in July, has played nine seasons in the league and has made the Pro Bowl seven times. He is a four-time All-Pro first team pick, was named AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, and won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots in 2015.
Going into this past season, Revis was still considered the best cornerback in the league by a lot of people. And while others would argue that he has since been surpassed by Richard Sherman (Seahawks), Patrick Peterson (Cardinals) and Josh Norman (Panthers), to name a few, Revis was still voted to this year’s Pro Bowl and he helped the Jets almost make the playoffs.
But according to Jeremiah Delgado of isportsweb.com, it might be time for the Jets to switch Revis to safety before his inevitable decline becomes exposed:
Yes, Revis had five interceptions this season, but so did (Jets CB) Marcus Williams. That statistic does not measure how well a cornerback is playing.
Meanwhile, Revis got beat on several occasions by both DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins. The final game of the season was the most important and Revis did not show up to lockdown Watkins.
It appeared as though Revis was playing off of him all game to avoid getting beat deep but Watkins ran circles around him on short routes. In a game where the Buffalo Bills faced a lot of short 3rd downs these routes mattered.
Watkins had 11 receptions for 136 yards. Revis is getting paid to lock up wide receivers and take away the opposing team’s best weapon.
Hopkins had 118 yards receiving and two touchdown catches against Revis. On multiple occasions, Revis was getting beat down the field. This game made it very evident that Revis has lost a step and can no longer play the same type of press coverage we are accustomed to seeing.
Sherman and Norman are about three years younger than Revis, but when the highest paid cornerback in the league doesn’t produce people start to notice.
Now, the Jets are not going to release a player that has almost as much guaranteed money as most quarterbacks in the league. Maybe it is time for Revis to change positions like Charles Woodson.
His football IQ is astronomical and that is why maybe it is time for him to take a few steps back and play safety. It would be a great option for the Jets and Revis. Woodson extended his playing time in the NFL by switching to safety and even won Defensive Player of the Year with the Green Bay Packers at the age of 33.
While the author is blunt and maybe a little too harsh in his assessment of Revis — having two bad games out of 14 and getting outplayed by Hopkins and Watkins is nothing to be ashamed of — he’s not pitching a crazy idea.
Revis could extend his career a few years by moving to safety, and would certainly become one of the top safeties in the league automatically. But it doesn’t have to happen now.
Woodson did play some safety for the Packers and shined in that role, but he didn’t make the full-time switch from cornerback until he was over 35 years old and had been in the league almost 15 years. Revis can still play at least another two years at cornerback at an elite level. Even if he occasionally does get burned by some of the league’s best receivers, that is just part of the job for the league’s best cornerbacks.