Darrelle Revis has been a Patriot for a full season, and the perception about him around here is still all wrong.
Not the perception about him on the field, of course. He came here with a reputation of being one of the best cornerbacks in the league, and he has lived up to every outsized expectation as the Patriots take their best defense in almost a decade into Sunday’s AFC Championship game against the Colts.
It’s about what Revis is really like on the inside. There’s a misperception about what makes him tick.
Anyone who follows the NFL knows Revis likes to get paid. Some of Revis’s most memorable moments include him holding out of training camp with the Jets as a rookie in 2007, holding out again in 2010, and the massive contract he signed with Tampa Bay two years ago worth $16 million per season.
But don’t mistake business savvy with greed. He hates the “mercenary” label. His friends and confidants quickly point out that Revis never missed a regular-season snap because of a contract holdout.
If Revis were driven by money, he wouldn’t be in New England this week, preparing with his teammates with a trip to a Super Bowl on the line.
You can call him “Me-vis” or “Revi$” if you want, but money isn’t why he signed with the Patriots in March after the Buccaneers cut him. Revis’s camp first approached the Jets about a reunion, and after being spurned, Revis turned to the Patriots and quickly signed on the dotted line for one year and $12 million (with a team option to extend to two years and $32 million).
Revis certainly is getting paid well in New England, but his choice was about more than money. Two AFC teams other than the Patriots wanted him and were willing to pay him $16 million per year, according to two Revis sources, but Revis said no. Those teams weren’t legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
At 29, he’s hungry for a ring and starting to think about legacy. Revis went to two AFC Championship games with the Jets, but hasn’t been on the NFL’s biggest stage. He’s already considered one of the best cornerbacks of all time, but he wants championships. Plural.
I hear a lot from fans who are nervous about the Patriots losing Revis in the offseason because they’ll nickel and dime him and eventually lose him to a higher bidder, like what happened with Wes Welker. But in talking to Revis, his teammates and the people closest to him, the feeling is Revis Island will be making a more permanent landing in New England.
Revis likes playing for Bill Belichick. He likes the Patriots’ no-nonsense approach and professional environment. He likes the guys in the locker room. He likes competing for Super Bowls.
“It’s been everything he thought it would be,” a source close to Revis said, “and more.”
The Patriots, of course, love having Revis, too. They love that he can hang with the top receivers in the NFL; that he allows them to be more creative with the other 10 players on defense; that other than one tardiness in October, he has shown up to work every day and brings the same intensity to the practice field that he does on game days.
“He’s one of the most competitive guys I’ve been around at that position,” Tom Brady said. “I mean, he hates when you catch a ball on him. He’s had a big challenge covering a lot of the premier players that we faced this year, every week he gets a tough assignment, and he always seems to do a great job.”
They love that, as fellow cornerback Kyle Arrington put it, “nobody’s harder on him than himself.”
“Sometimes we’ll just be sitting in the locker room, like right now, and his iPad’s on and he’ll be cussing himself, and I’m like, ‘What’s wrong with you? Something happen?’ ” Arrington said. “And he’s looking at film from a previous week, where he can make corrections. That’s the kind of guy he is.”
Revis has been a great culture fit, because he didn’t have to be taught the “Patriot Way.” He was already a Belichick-type player before he arrived in New England.
“Like I tell people all the time, the ‘Patriot Way’ is simple,” safety Devin McCourty said. “Just be professional, do the right thing, show up on time, practice hard. And I think that’s what he already was.”
Will Revis wrap up a Hall-of-Fame career with the Patriots? Or will he be a one-year rental?
It’s widely assumed the Patriots will decline the option on him in March that would pay him $20 million in bonus and salary for 2015. But Revis looks like a good bet to stay in New England for the long haul.
Belichick and Robert Kraft understand Revis’s importance to the team, and understand how difficult it is to replace him. And Revis likes playing for a championship organization.
The notion the Patriots won’t have any money left for Revis after signing several role players is silly. Revis wants to be paid for his services, like any of us do, but he’s not going to leave for, say, the Titans if they offer him more money than the Patriots.
He wants to play for a perennial winner, and the Patriots are one of a few. The Patriots can always move around salary cap money, and they just freed up $24 million in cash with Brady’s contract tweak. As long as the Patriots are competitive with their offer — and after opening up their checkbook last year for him, why wouldn’t they be again? — Revis should be back next year.
Between the end of the season and the start of the 2015 league year on March 10, when a decision on his roster bonus must be made, Revis and the Patriots probably will sit down and hammer out a new contract. The sides have tried to begin some dialogue toward the end of the season, but Revis shut it down, like he does so many wide receivers.
He wants his focus to be on one thing right now — getting the Patriots to the Super Bowl, and winning his first ring.
Revis was asked Thursday if he came to New England to play in games like the one coming up Sunday, and he seemed almost annoyed at the question. The answer should be obvious to anyone who knows what makes Revis tick.
“I answered that question before,” he said. “I think it’s self-explanatory.”