Best Defensive Player Team Has Ever Drafted Can't Play QB Or On Offensive Line

By Jason Keidel
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The Jets are in a perilous place. Fresh faces on the sideline and inside the GM suite, some cap space, a new attitude and, perhaps, altitude.

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Such is the nimbus in which the Jets dwell, their nth honeymoon with a new regime. Todd Bowles has the bona fides for the job. The new HC of the NYJ molded the moribund Cardinals into a machine on defense. But like his predecessor, Rex Ryan, the tarot cards are still face down on his offensive prowess.

Now, swathed in the romantic vibe, they are looking at the future by digging into the past.

The Jets have signed Darrelle Revis. Yes, that Darrelle Revis, the best defensive player the team has ever drafted, if not the best ever to wear the uniform. The rather seductive, significant other is back in the fold. You can decide if the Jets made a football decision or an emotional one.

Therein lies the peril. The Jets’ jaunt down memory lane is wildly expensive, literally and figuratively. They were battling the twin burdens of other NFL teams pining for his services, and their own sense of need and nostalgia. But no matter your take, they took Revis from the Patriots, which is always fruitful.

Predictably, the Patriots didn’t pick up Revis’s option, worth $20 million. No one is paying a cornerback that kind of quid, especially the Pats, who are frugal on a good day and downright cheap on others. If they squeeze the nickels from Tom Brady’s deal, then anyone is fair game.

And thus the Jets wander in and purchase Revis. But there’s no rewind button for former greats.

Former? Maybe. Revis enters this season at 30, has had major knee surgery, and is just about to leave his most fertile decade (20s). And he just swallowed up $48 million in the first three years of his deal, including $39 guaranteed.

Revis has already given the Jets his halcyon years, as a truly lockdown cornerback, when Revis Island was a dungeon for the opposing team’s heralded wideout.

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How many great 30-something cornerbacks do you know? One could argue that, after quarterback, cornerback is the hardest position in pro football. Wide receivers are taller and quicker than ever. Most have morphed from Lynn Swann (5-foot-11, 180 pounds) into Calvin Johnson (6-5, 240).

A cornerback’s best games are reserved for muted praise in the film room. His worst games are plastered across ESPN’s highlight reel, with all manner of graphics and graphic critiques from former players.

And while Revis has mused profoundly about returning to Gotham, he didn’t offer a hometown price tag. Surely the Jets paid more than the Patriots ever would. They had to. New England had a trump card the Jets can’t play — winning. New England has Bil Belichick and Tom Brady. The Jets have a neophyte head coach and Geno Smith.

Money is the only thing the Jets had over the Pats. And perhaps some slight pull of nostalgia. Unfinished business. Coming full circle. All the romantic metaphors you can summon.

This is a good day for the Jets, but the euphoria should be ephemeral. Revis doesn’t address their running game, their offensive like, or, most notably, their quarterback.

Now the Jets have the sixth pick in the draft. You could argue that who they pick is as vital, if not more, than signing Revis — especially if they draft a quarterback.

Fans have accused yours truly of being forever grumpy about Gang Green. Guilty. Today is good. You spent a lot of money, but at least your money was spent on a known, productive player who clearly isn’t intimidated by Broadway.

Going back to the future isn’t going to win you a title. You had Revis at his blanketing best and you still didn’t win a ring. But a Revis return has a nice ring to it.

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Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel