While Darrelle Revis is technically under contract for 2015, his $20MM base salary and $25MM cap number actually make him more likely to hit the open market than some notable prospective free agents. Players like Justin Houston and Dez Bryant don’t have contracts for 2015 yet, but their respective teams can use the franchise tag to keep them around. The franchise tag isn’t in play for the Patriots and Revis — if the team can’t come to an agreement on an extension with the cornerback and doesn’t want to pick up his pricey option, he’ll be cut.
If the Pats do release Revis, the former Jets cornerback will be a top priority on New York’s list of free agent targets. According to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link), as much as Antonio Cromartie would like to return to the Jets, he will be a “distant second” to Revis as the team considers its free agent options at cornerback.
Of course, Cromartie could move up to that No. 1 spot on the Jets’ list of free agent corners if the Pats manage to work something out with Revis prior to March 10. There are other noteworthy cornerbacks eligible for free agency this winter, such as Byron Maxwell, Brandon Flowers, and Kareem Jackson, but none of those players looks like as ideal a fit as Cromartie for the Jets. Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson told ESPN.com recently that all his teammate talks about is “freaking New York,” where former Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is now the head coach.
As Cole explains, Cromartie recognizes that, coming off a strong season in Arizona and having turned 30 last April, this may be his last, best shot at a big, long-term contract. So if the Jets decide to sign Revis to that sort of deal, Cromartie may turn elsewhere. If Revis returns to New England though, the Jets – armed with a ton of cap space and a need at CB – may be a perfect match for a player looking to return to New York and sign one more lucrative contract.