Looking at the Contract of Darrelle Revis

On my other website probably 20% of the articles center around Darrelle Revis and his ongoing contract squabbles with the New York Jets. With Revis in the news again due to his agents somehow feeling slighted that the team he is under contract did not go out of their way to meet with them this weekend I wanted to go over some of the particulars of that deal with this audience.

The Revis contract is one of the unique ones in that the final three years of the contract void provided Revis fulfills all his contractual obligations during the first 4 years of the contract. While these void structures have become a popular mechanism for certain cap-strapped teams the Jets have avoided these structures in the past but were backed into corner in 2010 when head coach Rex Ryan wanted Revis off his holdout and back on the field. At the heart of the holdout was the contract signed by Nnamdi Asomugha of the Oakland Raiders that was set to pay him slightly more than $45 million dollars over 3 years.  Revis wanted a higher APY, but over a longer period of time. Eventually a compromise was reached in which Revis’ two year pay would be $32.5 million, which was higher than Asomughas $28.6 million, but the APY of the contract would not exceed that of the Raiders corner.

To reach that figure the Jets paid Revis an $18 million dollar option bonus in 2011. In order to keep Revis’ cap figures at a reasonable number the Jets had to add these voidable seasons at the back end of the contract which would allow them to prorate the money over a 6 year period. By doing this the Jets would only incur $3 million a year in prorated charges from 2011 thru 2013, but would face a potential $9 million dollar dead money fee in 2014 if they did not sign Revis to an extension, which is where we are at today.

From a salary cap perspective the Jets likely look at Revis’ cap charges as a real detriment to the team going forward. The Jets have long held firm that they will not pay Revis the type of salary he demands, which makes it likely that he would hit free agency in 2014 even if the end result was returning to the Jets.  From the Jets point of view that makes the one year rental of Revis this year extremely expensive. To illustrate lets look at two scenarios.

In scenario A the Jets let Revis play out the contract this season. The Jets will absorb a $9 million dollar cap hit in 2013 for Revis’ services. From there the Jets have until the Super Bowl to work out an extension with Revis. If not extended before 4PM the day following the Super Bowl Revis contract will void. The Jets 2014 salary cap immediately takes on a $9 million dollar acceleration charge. At the best the Jets will get a third round draft pick in compensation for Revis that will be received in the 2015 NFL draft. As outlined here there is a chance they receive nothing. In terms of salary cap this means the Jets are using $18 million of cap dollars for 1 season of Darrelle Revis, knowing full well he hits free agency to test the market.

In scenario B the Jets trade Revis. If the Jets trade Revis at the start of the new League Year they immediately take on a $12 million dollar cap charge, a net loss of $3 million in cap room in the 2013 season. They receive a draft pick in the 2013 NFL draft, which would at least be a 2nd rounder. In 2014 they will be free and clear of all charges associated with Revis and he becomes somebody elses contractual headache.

So what we really have is the choice of $18 million in cap for Revis and at best  3rd rounder in 2015 versus $12 million in cap for nobody and at least a 2nd round pick in 2013. That is a difficult decision when you frame it in that way. More cap dollars and immediate young help in the draft. Of course if the Jets end up being a decent team in 2013, and in the NFL just about anything is possible, the loss of Revis could be huge.

Of course in scenario A Revis also takes a risk by waiting for free agency and playing the year out. Nobody knows if Revis is truly healthy and he has only played 31 games in the last 3 years. If he was to get injured again his value would plummet. Teams can take a chance on one injury not having an impact on the players ability, but two injuries and they won’t take a chance especially at the money Revis is supposedly looking for.  This might be something the Jets are hoping that works to their advantage if they are letting him twist in the wind about his future.

Really both sides would benefit from an extension. The Jets would avoid the $9 million dead money charge and keep Revis while Revis would remain on a team with a coach who favors his abilities and a fanbase who loves him. The Jets would probably pay Revis around $13 million a year which would be far more than any other corner in the NFL and would likely lock Revis into $30 million in guarantees regardless of injury recover.  But the Jets can not have Revis looking to hold out every other season and right now that is the reputation he has. This probably makes the extension a moot point.

All things considered it benefits the Jets cap flexibility and potential future roster by moving on this season and sending Revis to a team that is willing to go beyond that $16 million a year mark that Revis wants. If they can find a team ready to do that I’d expect the Jets to pull the trigger.