Revis Unhappy With Patriots Contract?

A new league year is almost upon us and according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, Darrelle Revis won’t be happy if he is asked to play out his current contract in 2015.  The gist of the PFT article is typical of most of the issues that Revis had as a member of the Jets for many years in which a contract is signed by both parties but Revis has a very different understanding of the context of the contract.

Since 2010, Revis’s side has lobbied hard for certain contract metrics pertaining to being the highest paid defensive player in the NFL. In 2010 he held out from the Jets in an attempt to exceed the 3 year, $45 million contract signed by Nnamdi Asomugha of the Oakland Raiders. At the time Revis still had three seasons remaining under contract to the Jets. Asomugha’s contract was also considered an outlier by every team in the NFL due to the Raiders handling of contracts at the time.

After some pleading from his coach Rex Ryan to get a deal done the Jets agreed to sign Revis to a new four year contract. The compromise was that the Jets would not match the annual value of the Asomugha contract but woould hit a two year payout of $32.5 million that would esentially mimic the cash flows of the Asomugha deal. In order to get the Jets to agree to the contract Revis had to agree to very strict contract language regarding holdouts in the future.  To fit Revis under the salary cap the Jets had to add a number of voidable contract years to prorate a large bonus paid in 2011.

Almost immeiately upon signing the contract Revis described the deal as a “band-aid contract” that he felt was a two year contract that would be revisited in 2012. That logic flew in the face of everything contained in the actual contract but it was picked up nationally as fact.  In 2012 Revis’ team sent out feelers about the reaction to another Revis holdout. The Jets more or less let it be known that would not be tolerated and if he held out reminded him that the voidable years of his contract would be contractually replaced with a number of low cost seasons. Revis was injured that season and with more holdout talk occuring in 2013 he was traded to the Buccaneers for a first round pick.

With Tampa Bay Revis received what he wanted from the Jets in 2010- a contract with an annual value of $16 million.  There was a catch however to this contract as well- Revis would receive absolutely no guarantees in the contract, making it possible to release him after just one season with no adverse impact on the Buccaneers salary cap. This is very rare for big name players and specifically for the Buccaneers who, at the time, were guaranteeing a minimum of two years worth of salary for their free agent acquisitions. But this was the way to $16 million a year. Despite an extremely different cash breakdown that the contract he was now hoping to match signed by Mario Williams Revis got his number.

Following his release from Tampa the market seemed somewhat lukewarm for Revis, who at the least was one of the two best cornerbacks in the NFL. After unsuccessfully trying to draw his former team of te Jets o the negotiating table Revis agreed to terms with the Patriots.  The Patriots were only willing to pay Revis $12 million for his season with the team. That number was a far cry from the $16 million he earned the year before and the contracts that were going to be signed by the young crop of corners (Sherman, Peterson, and Haden). To make the deal happen Revis needed a funny money year that would count for $25 million against the salary cap. That contract year pushed the annual value of the contract to (you guessed it) $16 million.

According to Florio the contract year was always designed to be a placeholder, a term recently used by Jonathan Kraft as well:

From the player’s perspective, the second year was aimed at allowing the Patriots to divide the signing bonus over two years, for cap purposes.  So, from the player’s perspective, the potential alternatives are:  (1) sign a new contract with the Patriots; or (2) be released by March 9 and sign a new deal elsewhere

The problem with the quote is that there were plenty of mechanisms that would allow the Patriots to divide the bonus over two seasons without the need for a high priced option year. The void year used by the Jets would have been a simple mechanism that would split the bonus over two years. In this case Revis either signs a new contract with New England or becomes a free agent on March 10, meeting both items from the players perspective described above. The catch is that using the void year would have seen Revis’ contract properly valued as a 1 year contract worth $12 rather than $16 million. I’d imagine that the second “placeholder” year had more to do with Revis’ wants than the Patriots at the time of signing.

Now Revis finds himself with the possibility of being asked to play out the season next year rather than finding a long term deal with another team, possibly the cash heavy Jets or eager to improve Bills.  While the $25 million cap charge is ridiculous, the $20 million salary may be viewed as reasonable by the Patriots if they feel it is important to keep Revis.

Since signing his new contract the dynamics of the cornerback market changed. I believe that was always anticipated by Revis’ agents when they agreed to the one year deal, assuming the $25 million cap cost was enough to push Revis to free agency in a market that was more agreeable to spend on the position than they were the year before. If we look at the new money cash flows of the cornerback contracts you will see some interesting numbers:

PlayerYear 1Year 2Year 3Year 4Year 5

The numbers here are staggering and it is likely that a long term deal with Revis would see him landing more than $35 million over a two year period and likely more than $20 million in the first year of his deal. So from the Patriots perspective if they really want Revis but dont care about the long term with him the $20 million is not as unreasonable as first thought, nor is the $32 million from a two year perspective.

Only time will tell if Revis is forced into a 2015 year with the Patriots and if there are any fireworks along the way, but his last two contracts should prove an example for people to study about the negative tradeoffs that can happen when agreeing to certain contract structures.

  • Tyler Ferree

    I think from Revis’ perspective the second year for his purposes was a mechanism to ensure he would reach free agency totally unfettered, avoiding the franchize/ transition tags as well as ducking the compensation formula. I just don’t see the Patriots being able to carry a 25 mil hit, especially if they tag McCourtey as they are widely expected to do.

  • Derek Lamarr

    Who would give a 29 year old CB a big contract?

    • AK

      Thats a good question. Asomugha had just turned 30 (three weeks prior) when he signed that ludicrous 5 yr $60m deal with the Eagles back in 2011. I would guess anyone (who isn’t playing for their job) would use that as a framework for a Revis contract (and Revis today poses more risks than Asomugha did back in 2011).

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  • NW86

    You would think that making $20M this year would be a positive thing from Revis’s perspective. It’s an $8M raise from last year. And while he might get $25M or even $35M guaranteed in a new deal, that would be over 2-3 years. Those CB’s above are younger and less risky than Revis and I don’t see him topping their guarantees. This way he gets $20M this year, PLUS whatever he signs for next year. And if he is looking to maximize his guarantees right now in case of injury next year, he’s in a position to negotiate an extension with NE and get a great shot at another SB ring or two in the process. But Revis’s ego has always gotten in his way, and no matter what NE offers, he’s going to assume he would make more on the open market.
    It will be interesting to see what happens. I think NE is bluffing a little and really isn’t prepared to carry his $25M cap number, especially when his teammate Tom Brady is taking a team first approach and only making $14M. I see both sides pushing this issue down to the wire, and NE finally releasing him March 9. Then he may end up with a contract with a “face value” of $16M, but it will again be a fake number. He may get $25M or so guaranteed over the first 2 years, then big, non-guaranteed numbers on the back half to make it look good.

  • McGeorge

    >> While the $25 million cap charge is ridiculous, the $20 million salary may be viewed as reasonable by the Patriots if they feel it is important to keep Revis.

    I don’t believe this to be true. The Pats won’t pay him 20MM.
    And Revis would be happy to do so.
    He’d be older the following year, but still able to get a reasonable contract, and even if it was a little less than what he’d want, he’d have 20MM banked.

  • Jim

    Jason, you reported the mechanics of the deal and an overview of Florio’s article, but left out your opinion:
    1. Whether or not the Patriots would actually carry $20 mil cash for Revis next season.
    2. Whether or not Revis would really be unhappy with that arrangement.

    On the first point, I realize the Pats *could* do this and make the cap work, because Brady is so cheap, and Wilfork/Solder/Amendola/Browner contracts will be terminated or re-done, but it would be incredibly “unPatriot-like” to pay Revis cash in 2015 the amount of the next three guys combined (Brady, Mayo, Gronk). For a team who never believes one guy is bigger than the rest? I don’t believe this would ever happen, but it’s slightly possible I suppose, as the Patriots don’t follow formula, and do occasionally veer from their own patterns and habits.

    On the second point, Revis has always been a “bet on himself” guy. That’s what a $16 mil per season, no guarantee contract tells you. I don’t believe for a second, that Revis believes he will be less the richer in the long run if he takes $20 mil for next season and hits free agency in 2016. As unlikely as the first point, this is even less likely. It would be a total departure from who he’s always been, and after the whole Jets fiasco(s), he should be keenly aware in the way he negotiates his contracts. Meaning, this would be the third contract he’s signed he’s been unhappy with, because he was “told” something different than what he “signed”. How big of a dope would you have to make the mistake of a signing a contract you’re not happy with, yet again?

    In the end, this is Florio just making up an article with a provocative message, just to get reads. If there was a “quote” or a “source” from anyone involved, that would be one thing, but it seems he’s just speculating, and poorly at that.

    • NW86

      Excellent post, agreed on all counts, including the conclusion. Florio isn’t exactly the most reliable, “fact-based” writer.

  • The Patriots exercising the $20M option isn’t going to happen. If they do that, they have no choice but to cut several players to free up cap room and then hope they can fill most needs through the draft.

    By not exercising the option, the Patriots have more flexibility. It allows them to see if Vince Wilfork will rework his contract for one more season, and perhaps do the same with Jerod Mayo (since neither player has any guaranteed money left). Then they can sign Nate Solder to an extension if they wish, and use their remaining cap space to sign a replacement for Revis, possibly re-sign a few low-cost free agents, and then have enough space for draft picks and any bargain free agents they wish to target. They might be able to replace Revis with somebody like Brandon Flowers or Kareem Jackson, CBs who will certainly want fair compensation, but aren’t likely to get money along the lines of Sherman, Peterson and Haden, and might take a reasonable offer from a Super Bowl contender.

    But if the Patriots keep Revis, they have no choice but to cut Wilfork and Mayo, forced into a quicker decision about extending Solder to free space, and can’t bring some of their low-cost free agents they may wish to keep. That means they have to really hit on the draft, and while they have generally drafted well, the Patriots probably don’t want to rely too much on it to find starters, given that they are still positioned to be a Super Bowl contender.

    They could opt to give Revis a new contract after declining the option, but if Revis expects a big payday, he’s not likely to get it from then — certainly not when they may want Wilfork and Mayo to rework their deals.

    Furthermore, while Revis may get a bigger payday from a team other than the Patriots, I seriously doubt anyone will make him the highest paid defensive player. J.J. Watt is clearly the best defensive player in the NFL, and his average salary per year is $16.6 million. I just can’t see any argument that Revis can transform a defense like Watt has proven to, so I highly doubt Revis will see another $16M APY salary again.

  • Rick

    It would be a first for a player to be “unhappy” to receive the third-highest salary in the NFL, and the highest non-QB salary. I get it: Revis might want more guaranteed money and more years. But, really. $25 M is seriously money.
    The other players like Revis, but he might push his luck here.

  • Rick

    You know, Florio’s article doesn’t use the word “unhappy”. Why is OTC using it in the headline?

    Click-bait much?

  • AK

    The article is illuminating. And its’ thesis rests on the assumption that Revis hasn’t changed since becoming an FA in 2014. If this is true, then Revis views the floor of any negotiations to be $16m/yr, regardless of his age and injury history. However, we do know that the Patriots’ offer to Revis wasn’t the best one he got in FA–the Patriots just happened to be the only team viewed as a viable “contender.” But if we do assume the author’s hypothesis to hold true, and that Revis is still the cut-throat, brutal negotiator that he was in 2010, and that he won’t look kindly on the Patriots picking up the $20m tab, then the author affords something to the Patriots that they previously weren’t thought to have: leverage.