NFL schedule makers dealt New York Jets general manager John Idzik a nice hole card for his high-stakes poker game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay opens at the Jets, and in the first half of the season, the Bucs have to face Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton and Michael Vick, who could be rejuvenated under coach Chip Kelly's new scheme in Philadelphia.
There is not a lot of makeup room in the second half of the schedule with four of the Bucs' last six games on the road, including the final two.
Expecting even a high-level NFL rookie cornerback to make an immediate impact is unrealistic.
The Bucs' best cornerback is Eric "The Wrong" Wright.
The schedule cries out for a fast start.
It screams for Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.
The Jets reportedly want the Bucs' 13th pick in Thursday's NFL draft for starters.
The Bucs show reluctance, but who are they fooling? They won't get a better cornerback in the draft and time is precious.
The presence of Revis would even help the Bucs' woeful pass rush that ranked near the bottom of the league in sacks last season.
Tampa Bay lost some of its leverage in the Revis sweepstakes because Bucs
GM Mark Dominik -- or whoever pulls the strings above him -- is playing possum.
Dominik and Bucs head coach Greg Schiano ignored the cornerback free-agency market, though the asking prices haven't been so pro-owner since Vince Lombardi walked the sidelines.
They could've picked up a couple of good, but cheap, free-agent cornerbacks who were going for $1.5 million to $3.5 million on one-year deals, which would've allowed the Bucs to operate from more strength in negotiations with the Jets.
Dominik chose not to and lost leverage.
Revis has been the best cornerback in the NFL. He still might be despite tearing his ACL last season. Trying to get a look at his surgically repaired knee makes a last-minute deal before the draft precarious, which doesn't bode well for the Dale Mabry Mafia.
Schiano said this week you build teams through the draft, free agency and in-house.
But with the exception of safety Dashon Goldson, the Bucs have passed on free agency.
They don't have enough in-house talent at cornerback to build a Scrabble board and not enough time in the early part of the 2013 season to turn even an elite rookie cornerback into the shutdown maker Schiano envisions.
The Bucs' pass defense was a nightmare last season, and much it stemmed from its inability to cover the deep ball. They gave up 203.7 passing yards per game to wide receivers, which was the worst in the NFL, and surrendered a league-high of 17 pass plays of at least 30 yards.
To solve the cornerback problem, the only thing the Bucs have done was re-sign Wright for a reported $1.5 million. He comes cheap (even for him) because of his drug problem that voided the big-money deal Dominik initially gave him.
Wright has continued to make poor decisions that have plagued him since his college days at USC right through last season, when he was suspended for drugs. He is not the guy you want to share a foxhole with and has a litany of issues that have proven him to be reckless and unreliable.
It begs for Darrelle.
So Domink can continue to play hardball. But everyone in the business knows he could be gone after another disappointing season. His personal situation could make things a bit harder for the Bucs.
Revis is asking $15 million annually on a multiyear deal. The Bucs have plenty of cap space to accommodate him.
Revis and Goldson could even baby-sit Wright, which is a lot better than Wright mentoring a rookie cornerback in a scenario that leaves everyone at One Buc Place nervous.
Dominik needs Revis more than anyone else in the Bucs organization. He would make a splash and allow fans to forget some of the GM's past mistakes. He would give the Bucs a face, help attendance and allow the Bucs to go after a quality defensive lineman they desperately need.
So Mr. D can bluff and play hardball, but he is not fooling anyone. He doesn't hold all the cards.
Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.