The answer to the post’s question, of course, is “a positive one” (assuming he’s at all healthy next season). The Buccaneers have ranked second-to-last in Net Yards per Attempt Allowed the past two years to begin with and adding a cornerback who was almost unanimously perceived as the best in the game in the three years prior to his ACL injury in the third game of last season should help further an expected regression towards the mean for Tampa Bay’s pass defense. The bigger question is the degree to which the soon-to-be 28-year-old Revis improves the Buccaneers’ secondary. Does his presence, along with the signing of Dashon Goldson and the expected improvement from highly regarded second-year safety Mark Barron, push the Buccaneers’ defense into the “good” or even “great” category? Or will the sum of the parts not equal the whole and leave Tampa Bay once again lingering as a below-average defensive unit?
We’re five months away from beginning to answer those questions, but here’s a list of other All-Pro cornerbacks since the merger who switched teams in their primes and an account of the impact their presence had on their new team the year after (as measured by Net Yards per Attempt and Predictive Yards per Play).
There’s a variety of reasons why the Rams’ defense bounced back from being one of the worst in the league in 2000 to one of the best in 2001, including Lovie Smith’s ascendance to the defensive coordinator position and simple regression towards the mean, but Williams’ third All-Pro selection (and first since coming over from Arizona) has to be one of the biggest.
The Broncos shaved offer four tenths of a yard off their rushing average defensively, which explains the improvement in Predictive Yards per Play but the decline in Net Yards per Attempt with Champ’s arrival in Denver. Still, this is probably Tampa Bay’s best-case scenario for the Revis deal: Bailey was first-team All-Pro his first three years in Denver and has made the Pro Bowl every season he’s played more than nine games in a Broncos uniform.
San Francisco’s Net Yards per Pass Attempt figure dropped from 3rd to 6th in ’94, but they allowed eight fewer touchdown passes and intercepted four more passes (Deion picked off six passes himself, taking three of them back to the house).
For the second year in a row, Deion hopped on the Super Bowl-winning team’s bandwagon, but Dallas’s defense strangely fell back to the middle of the pack – partly because Deion only played in nine games and partly because their pass rush recorded eleven fewer sacks than 1994.
Mark Haynes, 1986, Denver Broncos, age 28:
Haynes made three Pro Bowls in a row with the Giants from 1982-84, picking up two All-Pro selections along the way before suffering an injury in 1985 and getting shipped off to Denver before 1986. The Broncos’ defense improved from the year before, but it was hardly due to anything Haynes did: he only played in eleven games all season and wasn’t even in the lineup by the time the Broncos were facing off against his old team in the Super Bowl.
Haynes only played in five games in his first season after coming over from New England, so the Raiders’ defensive improvement in 1983 can’t really be attributed to him, although he did record an interception in the Super Bowl against Washington.
I think we all remember how this went down, right?
San Francisco’s defense superficially looked better with the five-time All-Pro Woodson in its secondary, but that was mainly due to an easy schedule; in reality, they were very good in both ’96 and ’97 with little to distinguish between the quality of the two.
The Jets went 4-12 in Law’s first season away from New England, but it was hardly his fault: he led the league in interceptions with ten and the Jets’ pass defense improved from 2004 (the PY/P drop was due to the run defense’s decline from 3.6 yards per carry in 2004 to 3.9 in 2005).
So, on average, these All-Pro cornerbacks improved their new teams’ Net Yards per Attempt average by .07 yards per attempt and their Predictive Yards per Play figure by .15 yards per play. Of course, some of the players on this list didn’t have much of an impact at all on their new teams while others played at peak performance but didn’t noticeably improve their team’s overall defense. Perhaps the biggest thing to note from this entire exercise is that Revis, while undeniably great when he’s healthy, accounts for just 9% of the total defense on the field when he’s in the lineup. If Tampa Bay really wants to turn into a top-flight defense, they should try to improve a pass rush that’s only put the quarterback on the ground fifty times combined over the past two years.