In one of the more surprising NFL stories, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis was charged with four felonies stemming from an incident that occurred in Pittsburgh. At this point there are two different versions of the story from each side so nobody can say for certain whether Revis was in the wrong or not, but it has opened the question up about Revis’ contract with the Jets and how this incident may impact his future with the team. So lets just go over a few details with his contract and how these things may be handled.
The Revis Contract
Revis is in the third year of a five year, $70 million contract signed with the Jets in 2015. Revis is slated to earn $16 million in 2017, but the timing of those payments vary. $2 million is due on March 10, which is not guaranteed. $13 million is paid out during the course of the season. $6 million of this is currently guaranteed with the balance becoming guaranteed if he is on the roster for the first game of the season. The final $1 million is not due until after the regular season and is tied to an option for the 2018 season. The option is not guaranteed.
What impact does this charge have on his guarantee
Right now probably minimal. Anyone could be charged with a crime and it doesn’t mean they are guilty of anything (given that Revis has never had any run ins that I am aware of Id think he should also get the benefit of the doubt right now). Remember a few years ago a number of NFL players charged with some pretty bad domestic charges all were paid while that process sorted itself out.
In this situation I would imagine that the most imminent issue for Revis deals with the NFL Personal Conduct Policy. Most standard contract language should include a default in the event a player is fined or suspended as a result of violating this policy. The policy permits the league to discipline a player even if he is found not guilty of a crime. Here are some portions of the policy that could be relevant:
“It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime. Instead, as an employee of the NFL or a member club, you are held to a higher standard and expected to conduct yourself in a way that is responsible, promotes the values upon which the League is based, and is lawful. Persons who fail to live up to this standard of conduct are guilty of conduct detrimental and subject to discipline, even where the conduct itself does not result in conviction of a crime.
Discipline may be imposed in any of the following circumstances:
Criminal offenses including, but not limited to, those involving: the use or threat of violence; domestic violence and other forms of partner abuse; theft and other property crimes; sex offenses; obstruction or resisting arrest; disorderly conduct; fraud; racketeering; and money laundering;…
Conduct that imposes inherent danger to the safety and well being of another person; and
Conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL players.”
Based on the charges against Revis there are clearly a few areas that he could be found guilty by the NFL if there is some truth to the allegations.
I don’t believe that there is any timeframe for a league investigation and I’d imagine since this allegation is not so awful that this would force the league to move swiftly as if there was another Greg Hardy situation. So I’d think that this would linger. Most likely the first potential violation of the policy would come if Revis failed to report to a mandatory offseason activity unless the Jets push the issue that Revis’ conduct somehow reflects so poorly on the team that it voids his guarantee.
So What Do the Jets Do?
If I were the Jets I would certainly look closely at the situation before making a decision. The problem for the Jets really is the timing of the roster bonus that is due in a few weeks. While $6 million of Revis’ salary is guaranteed, the $2 million payment is not part of that guarantee. That is additional consideration. So the Jets could gamble that Revis is disciplined by the NFL and in that case the Jets will just owe Revis $2 million rather than $6 million. The downside of course to that situation is that $6 million could them become $8 million.
It’s tricky because any decision in this matter is likely going to take time and time is not on the Jets side here. The team has to either decide to negotiate with Revis in good faith on a pay reduction for the year or plan to pay him his $6 million and cut him outright. This incident probably complicates matters in any pay cut scenario.
If it were me I think Id have to treat this as if it didn’t happen and move forward from there. As long as no changes occur in the default language on the contract and Revis is willing to play for $6M on the year I’d look to do that. If he is in fact guilty at that point I wouldn’t have to honor the $6M guarantee and get off with paying nothing. If all is well at least I’m filling up a roster spot for the season. I don’t think I can risk paying another $2M on whats a bad investment at this point even if there is a sliver of hope the guarantee can vanish.
I guess the Jets could also go the route of trying to claim he violated some team policy, release him, and then let an arbitrator decide as to whether or not his guarantee will stand. I would think that would completely sever any future relationship with the Jets organization which would be something to consider since Revis is likely a Hall of Famer and the team he is most associated with is the Jets, but it may also open a path for them to save their money without any risk.
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.