As Day Two of the NFL free agency period winds down, several big names are expected to hit the market and extend the frenzy.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut ties with star cornerback Darrelle Revis, announcing his release on Wednesday. Considered one of the best players at his position in recent seasons, Revis was scheduled to count for a $16 million salary cap hit this season, apparently a hit too rich for rebuilding Tampa Bay and new head coach Lovie Smith.
The Bucs had reportedly listened to trade offers for the 28-year-old with 21 career interceptions, with NFL.com reporting New England, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and the New York Giants were all interested parties. However, a trade was seen as unlikely with no franchise wanting to take on the remaining five years and $80 million left on Revis’s contract. Revis also favored hitting the open market.
Now all those teams could outright sign Revis to a new deal, with the Eagles, Giants, and Falcons boasting the most cap space of the group at $22 million. New England has $14 million in cap space, but head coach and manager Bill Belichick would ask Revis to take a pay cut, something he’s never done in his career.
Revis’s first team, the New York Jets, has $42 million of cap space and theoretically could bring him back into the fold. Revis and head coach Rex Ryan still reportedly have a good relationship, and a reunion can’t be ruled out just yet.
In other news, the New Orleans Saints have reportedly been shopping running back Darren Sproles, and the Carolina Panthers have also done the same with 13-year receiver Steve Smith. Both players, for distinct reasons, have essentially said they want out of their respective franchises.
Sproles, who’s scored 21 total touchdowns and gained 3,048 all-purpose yards in three seasons in New Orleans, publicly stated his desire for an outright release from the team, according to Pro Football Talk.
The 30-year-old will count for $4.25 million against the Saints' cap, and the team was reportedly offering Sproles in trades as early as last week in the hopes of shedding his salary to bring in more top defensive players and save space for tight end Jimmy Graham.
Sproles specifically said he wants to have a say on where he plays, rather than being shipped to a losing team.
“I want to get released,” Sproles said. “I don’t want to be traded. I don’t know where they would send me because I have no control over it and I want to be able to pick. The good thing is none of the teams I’m told they’re talking to are terrible. It’s more than two. I feel I should have more of an idea later on today.”
Smith took to Twitter to pledge his loyalty to Carolina, the team that made him a third-round pick in 2001, but also said he won’t be back next season.
Smith was angered by how vague the Panthers were about his status with team next season during a meeting at the NFL Combine last month, according to ESPN. The 34-year-old was also distressed by the loyalty he showed the team not being reciprocated.
"Where we are disappointed is the fact he signed an extension to stay loyal to the club and complete his career as a Panther," Smith’s agent Derrick Fox said to the Associated Press.
"That is why we did the long-term team deal. Now we are at a crossroads where the Panthers don't want him anymore."
The Panthers also apparently put Smith on the trading block, but his $7 million cap hit and age likely scared teams away. Smith ranks first in Panthers history with 12,197 yards and 67 touchdowns.