(SportsNetwork.com) - In the salary-cap era of the NFL, it's all about allocating assets and one of the major reasons the Seattle Seahawks are preparing to play in their second straight Super Bowl stems from the fact that they "hit" on quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round of the draft.
Instead of having to invest eight figures at the game's most important position, Seattle paid Wilson a little less than $700,000 in 2014, meaning it could earmark significant dollars to other positions and build perhaps the deepest roster in all of football.
That dynamic that will be changing rather quickly, however. Wilson's rookie deal expires in 2015 and the two Super Bowl appearances in three seasons means that eight figures is on the horizon for the third-year pro in the offseason with some speculating he will end up as the highest paid quarterback in the game at least until the Colts' Andrew Luck cashes in.
As the most playoff-tested signal caller in NFL history, the Patriots' Tom Brady made just under $15 million for his work in leading New England to its record-tying eighth Super Bowl appearance so the Pats are well-versed on how to build a roster around a leading man who has already cashed in his chips.
And one of the major tenants of that philosophy is the act of the strategical strike in free agency -- when you think you're close to the Lombardi Trophy, target a difference maker.
The Patriots did exactly that in the offseason by signing veteran cornerback Darrelle Revis after he was released by Tampa Bay, inking the star to a two- year backloaded deal.
In Revis' first season in Foxborough, he delivered in a big way as the lockdown corner capable of eliminating one side of the football field, while enabling Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to be much more inventive with their various blitz and coverage schemes.
The four-time All-Pro amassed 47 tackles with two interceptions and 14 passes defensed as the Patriots finished the regular season 12-4 with their latest AFC East crown.
The divisional round against Baltimore proved to be Revis' toughest game of the season, largely because the Ravens' Steve Smith is one of the few receivers in football who can outphysical the Pitt product. Revis rebounded, though, in the AFC Championship Game as he picked off Luck during the Patriots' 45-7 rout.
Although the Pats are semi-regulars in the big game, this is Revis' first trip and he brings an added dimension which makes New England a far more well- rounded team.
"Everything is surreal right now," Revis said of reaching the Super Bowl for the first time. "Actually I'm asking some of the guys who have been here that's on this team, You know, "what's the process?' Vince (Wilfork) has been helping me. (Devin McCourty) has been helping me. Even (ex-Seahawk Brandon) Browner. I'm just trying to go about the process the best way I can."
Revis will be tackling that process as perhaps the best man-to-man coverage corner in the game. Opponents often assume Belichick will just lock Revis up with their best receiver but the Pats' coach is usually a step ahead and he could use Revis to shadow a lesser threat while rolling bracket coverage to the other side.
It's also far easier to overload the blitz with Revis holding down the fort on the edge and his presence makes rushing three into a viable strategy because seven can drop into coverage, along with Revis, in an almost basketball- style box-and-one defense.
"It's just being competitive," Revis said of his success. "In this league, I think as a defensive back, that's what needs to drive you. The whole secondary feels that same way. We don't want any balls caught."
The Seahawks' and Pats' defensive backfields obviously won't be playing each other in Super Bowl XLIX but the comparisons are obvious, as Seattle's group, led by All-Pros Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, is regarded as the best in football after allowing an NFL-low 185.6 passing yards per game. New England, with Revis, Browner and safety Devin McCourty, is considered a step behind.
Revis is often mentioned with Sherman when a debate over the best cornerback breaks out but it's a little like comparing apples and oranges.
Seattle plays a lot of Cover-3 and Sherman stays on the left side of the field, meaning the opposing offense can avoid any matchup it wants by simply varying the formations. Revis, on the other hand, will shadow a receiver.
There are pluses and minus to each philosophy. Revis supporters point to the fact he is asked to do more but fail to realize his movements mean other lesser players also have to shift and do things they aren't necessarily comfortable with.
"I'm sure people will make comparisons," Sherman said. "They always do. But we play the game two different ways.
"He's plays it more meticulous and more conventional on his technique. Mine is more unorthodox. It's more difficult to replicate what I do on the football field. So it's two different styles to compare. I play my way and he plays his way and both of them are effective."
Revis and Sherman once engaged in a rather epic Twitter war with each proclaiming they were the best corner. These days, it's shifted into more of a mutual admiration society.
"I mean their secondary is one of the best in the league," Revis said of Sherman and Co. "They are making plays for the last couple of years. If you look at it on film, they've definitely made a lot of plays. They play well together and I think that's the key. They are very versatile in what they do and they are a very physical group."
"He's had a great year and he's been doing his job effectively," Sherman countered when discussing Revis. "I like what I've seen from his game."
It's hard not to.
"(Revis is) savvy, instinctive, he's deceptively fast," Pats CB Kyle Arrington told the Boston Globe. "He has longer arms than you would think, so he's patient on the line of scrimmage. He doesn't care about the scoreboard, in a sense of getting beat, things like that. He's just a good football player."
Good is kind of understating things, something Arrington was quick to correct.
"There's only a few guys that come around like that in a generation," Arrington said, "and we're just fortunate to have a guy like that on our team."