With more of the Darrelle Revis talks in full swing I wanted to look at a few teams that could be interested in his services.
One thing that I think is worth noting is that there is nothing that keeps Revis from being a one year rental. I have heard many people state that a team will not trade for Revis if they do not think they can work out a long term deal with him. Why? A team that acquires Revis will only take on a $6 million dollar cap hit in 2013. That hit is made up of $3 million in salary and $3 million in bonuses that are paid out on March 17th, after the completion of workouts, and finally for reporting to training camp. That is a dirt cheap price for a team trading for a star cornerback that thinks he is the final piece of a win now team.
Is there the risk that Revis could hold out? No. Remember that Revis has holdout protection in his contract. It is unlikely that there is any clause that voids those clauses if traded. In other words if a team trades for Revis and he holds out he becomes their exclusive property thru 2016. Essentially they are in the same position that the Jets would be in right now with him. So Revis has to play even if just for one year if he wants to cash in for free agency,
Now I don’t want this to be read that another team is going to wow the Jets with some amazing offer. No extension probably maxes the traded draft pick out at second rounder. But would you give up $6 million in cash and cap and a 2nd rounder for Revis even if he was going to bolt after one year? Most Jets fans want Revis to stick on the team this year even if he will leave, essentially costing the Jets $18 million in cap room over the next two years. It’s a no brainer that a team would make the deal if they felt they could win now.
For the Jets to be protected the trade would need to include draft pick escalators if Revis signs with the new team. The Jets have done that before with Jonathan Vilma when they traded him to the New Orleans Saints. Now the loophole has always been to let the player get to free agency and then sign him to avoid the compensation but I would think language could be written to avoid that possibility and enforce any re-signing of Revis between the day of the trade and say June of 2014. If that is against league rules there is always the possibility of tying it in with games played and a playoff win or something along those lines.
Between the low salary he has this year and the fact that Revis only played two games last season he is an easy fit for an acquiring team under any scenario and any extension. Joel Corry, the great salary cap expert, plotted out an excellent way to do that with Revis by using NLTBE incentives that you often hear me talking about on here from time to time. So its not a cap constraint in the present and may not be one in the future if you just want that one year rental.
So who might be interested? Lets look.
Denver Broncos– We all saw last year that Champ Bailey cant keep up with the younger and faster wide receivers. He was getting blown past against the Ravens who targeted him over and over as if he was a useless replacement player. The Broncos are clearly a win now team with a 37 year old Peyton Manning at QB and they have a short window of opportunity. With the pass rush they have putting Revis on that team could make the defense scary good. The Broncos should have between $7 and $9 million in cap space once they tag LT Ryan Clady and cutting Bailey saves them an additional $10.75 million. The Broncos have not been afraid to invest in players before and Bailey has been one of the highest paid corners in the NFL. Denver has the 28th pick in both rounds 1 and 2 in the 2013 draft.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers– I said early in the offseason that this is a team that could make a play for Revis. They cleared out a ton of cap space last year with the restructuring of Vincent Jacksons and Carl Nicks and are currently around $30 million under the cap. The Bucs have generally used a cash to cap philosophy which might fit best with Revis who seems to be upset in every year he is not among the highest cash compensated players in the NFL. Tampa is looking to revamp and add support to their offense and Revis brings instant credibility to their defense. This would be a team that would immediately sign him to a long term deal. They have the 13th pick in round 1 and 12th pick in round 2. They could probably put together an enticing package for the Jets.
San Francisco 49ers– the 49ers just cleared out a good chunk of cap space by agreeing on a trade of QB Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs. Their defense is already terrific and if you can pair Revis with S Dashon Goldson, assuming he is re-signed, and LB Patrick Willis you could have a truly special defense. The NFC West has gotten very competitive and Seattle was arguably the better team next season so its not as if the 49ers are assured of being the favorite in the NFC again. The 49ers have a boatload of draft picks and could offer either the 31st or 33rd pick in the draft if they wanted to. They have the ammunition to get the deal done. The two negatives for San Francisco are the fact that they are tight on cap room even with the trade of Smith and it is highly unlikely that they would sign Revis to an extension. San Francisco has a very specific way they design their salary cap which includes per game roster bonuses and often times using mechanisms to remove dead money protection from players contracts when the cap room presents itself. There is no chance that Revis would ever agree to such structures making him a bigger headache than he probably is with New York. San Francisco does not have a closing window so I don’t see them as a prime candidate.
Atlanta Falcons– The Falcons got torched in the playoffs last year and looked as if they had a secondary that had never played football before. The team had franchised CB Brent Grimes last season but he went down to a season ending injury early on. The team is explosive offensively and can use a player like Revis to settle the defense down and try to get them over the hump. While Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are certainly young there is a portion of the team nearing the turnover stage and Atlanta may not want to waste more opportunities. With elite QBs in the NFC such as Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, and Drew Brees as well as the young guns of Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, and Russel lWilson a player like Revis is much more of a difference maker than in the AFC where most teams have less capable QBs. Not only that but these mobile QBs, who are predominantly in the NFC, are going to require teams to play more man to man coverage while leaving others in to spy the QB. There is no better man to man player than Revis. While Atlanta is close to the cap limit they will create $6.9 million when they release RB Michael Turner and can add another $6 million by releasing CB Dunta Robinson. Atlanta has the 30th pick in the first and second round of the draft.
Could other teams be interested? Maybe. I could see the Texans potentially getting in the act, though I feel as if their window closed and bringing in a player like Revis is probably not going to make a difference. Green Bay could use a player like Revis as their defense is poor and they have the cap room to make such a move. The best QB and the best corner in the NFL on the same team? I don’t think its impossible but this doesn’t scream to me of a Packer move. They amass draft picks rather than trading them. On top of that they need to make sure to keep lots of cap room for Rodgers and LB Clay Matthews. To me it makes sense I just don’t see them trading a pick.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.