Cyr: The New England Patriots are making a huge mistake letting Darrelle Revis walk

By Andrew Cyr

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(Robert Duyos/Sun Sentinel/MCT)

(Robert Duyos/Sun Sentinel/MCT)

I’ve never been one to question the Patriot Way.

It’s hard to. In the Bill Belichick era, the New England Patriots have won four Super Bowls, six AFC Championships and 12 division titles. Hardware speaks volumes.

But there comes a time when questioning authority becomes acceptable, and after the Patriots failed to re-sign cornerback Darrelle Revis, it’s time that we start wondering what the grey hoodie is doing.

New England, scratch that, Belichick and the Krafts – Belichick’s personal checkbook – are making a huge mistake.

You don’t need advance metrics or statistics to realize what was different about this New England team – the eye test will be sufficient. This past season’s defense was hands-down the best Patriots defense since the 2004 season, its last Super Bowl win before 2015.

New England’s secondary over the past few seasons was by far its biggest weakness – aside from health – and what happened when it went out and got the best player at cornerback in the league? A Super Bowl victory. It’s not that hard of math to figure out.

Yes I’m aware Brandon Browner had a huge impact on the defense as well, there’s no arguing that. But let’s be honest with ourselves: Revis solidified that secondary and was the best player on that side of the ball.

But wait, there’s more.

New England didn’t pick up Browner’s option for 2015 either.

Is Belichick still sitting in a tropical island somewhere enjoying an ice cold Corona on the beach? The rest of the AFC East is getting better. The Miami Dolphins made Ndamukong Suh the highest paid defensive player in the league, the New York Jets snatched Revis away and added Brandon Marshall, while the Bills added star running back LeSean McCoy and with new head coach Rex Ryan at the helm, that defense will certainly be getting better.

Meanwhile, what have the Patriots done? Let go of Revis, Browner and Vince Wilfork, with the addition of placing the franchise tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski and re-signed safety Devin McCourty to a five-year $47.5 million deal with $28.5 million guaranteed.

McCourty re-signing with New England is certainly key to its defense, but a look at who’s currently listed on the cornerback depth chart – Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler Alfonzo Dennard, Dax Swanson and Justin Green – I can’t help but scratch my head and ask what’s going on here.

Cornerback is arguably the most important defensive position on the field – defensive end being the other – and what went from being the Patriots’ strength of the team is now a weakness. Let’s face it, the NFL is a passing league. Teams need corners that can lock up on the outside. New England had that and just like that it’s all gone.

I don’t want the Patriots to sign Andre Johnson, Percy Harvin, C.J. Spiller or even Reggie Bush for that matter. They don’t need “sexy” offensive weapons like that. This isn’t a Madden game where they can just throw money away because it’s going to boost your overall team rating.

Defense wins championships. To win in the NFL, teams must load up on defense. Look at the past two champions before New England: the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks. What do they both have in common? A good defense. That’s what wins rings.

The Patriots messed up. They let their own model and stubbornness get in the way of what worked. They were afraid to open up the banks and bring back arguably the best cornerback in the league. Heck, I would have been fine picking up that $20 million option. The NFL salary cap is the most flexible thing in all of sports: they could have at least locked him up then restructured the deal. The cap is crap in the NFL.

Don’t blame Revis for wanting the money either. Everyone is so caught up in the idea that start players are willing to take massive pay cuts like Tom Brady. It’s not practical to think everyone will be that generous. The NFL is a business after all.

Now let’s just hope, for Patriots fans’ sake, Belichick has something up his cut-off sleeve.

Andrew Cyr can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.