The Chiefs needed help in the secondary, and they hope they’ve found some in an unexpected signing: Darrelle Revis. The 32-year-old cornerback has been a free agent since the Jets released him in March, but he will have a chance to help Kansas City get back on track for the playoffs.
“He’s ready to go now,” Chiefs Coach Andy Reid said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters (via the Associated Press). “He was coming off the wrist [injury] that he had last year, you know — this is when he was ready to go. We felt the same way. So it was a nice, mutual agreement that took place, and here we are.”
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Revis agreed to a deal that will pay him the veteran’s minimum for this year, presumably prorated over the Chiefs’ final six games of the regular season, plus a $10 million team option for 2018. The Jets were already paying him $6 million, the remaining guaranteed portion of a five-year, $70 million contract to which they signed him in 2015, but that deal’s offset language means payments from the Chiefs will come out of that sum.
In other words, Revis will be playing essentially for free, but as SiriusXM NFL Radio host Ross Tucker pointed out, he is set to appear in enough games to tack another year of service onto NFL benefits, such as his pension and annuity. In addition, Revis gets an opportunity to showcase what’s left of his skills for teams interested in signing him next year, assuming the Chiefs don’t pick up his option.
A seven-time Pro Bowler who has been a first-team all-pro four times, most recently in 2014, Revis played poorly in 2016, a decline all the more stark for a player widely considered to have been the finest cornerback of his era. However, there were questions about how much that had to do with rapidly fading ability, as opposed to a lack of competitive spirit during a 5-11 Jets season.
Revis himself admitted in December that the only reason he was “still playing” was because he was “under contract.” At various points that season, he said, “I’m old,” and lamented, “My body’s breaking down.”
“As a competitor, it was very disappointing,” Revis said Wednesday of his 2016 campaign (via the Kansas City Star). “As a player, I was in a place where I had never experienced something like that before, especially coming off the wrist surgery. And our team not doing very well with the season. . . . There was a lot of ups and downs. Me being one of the leaders, you are under the microscope.”
Even a diminished version of “Revis Island” would likely be of great use to Kansas City, which is 28th in the NFL against the pass and has fallen to 6-4, still good for first in the AFC West, after a 5-0 start. The team has been disappointed with its rotation of cornerbacks, including Terrence Mitchell, Kenneth Acker, Steven Nelson and Phillip Gaines, it has tried opposite Marcus Peters.
“We’ve had some young guys trying their hearts out and doing a nice job for us, too,” Reid said. “It’s a win-win. You get a veteran guy, and you have some young guys that will continue to grow.”
Revis said he was a big fan of Peters, who was selected for the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons. “He is really awesome — I love the way he plays,” Revis told reporters. “He has taken the league by storm.”
Reid said he was not ruling out the possibility that Revis might play Sunday, despite his long layoff, when the Chiefs host the Bills. “He looks like he’s in good shape, which he says he is. He knows the system; that’s the only reason I wouldn’t [rule him out Sunday],” the coach said. “You’ve got to see where we’re at.”
The Chiefs’ subsequent game happens to be at the Jets, who made Revis a first-round pick in 2007. New York traded him to Tampa Bay in 2013, but he only spent one year there before moving on to the Patriots, whom he helped win a Super Bowl in his lone season in New England.
Kansas City’s defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton, was on New York’s staff during Revis’s first six seasons there, and Reid thinks that familiarity will help. The coach noted that Revis looked “great physically, but time does that; time will take a step away from you.”
“Darrelle is a proven player in this league, and we are excited to add him to our secondary,” Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach said in a statement. “He’s had a Hall of Fame career, and his leadership and playing experience will be valuable to our defense.”
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