I just wanted to touch on a few things Revis this morning. There were multiple stores yesterday on conditions in Revis’ contract with the Jets that tie together his three offseason bonuses. I think Rich Cimini was the first with the story but pretty much everyone on the Jets beat had similar information. I have to admit those conditions were news to me and illustrated a very strong position maintained by the Jets in regards to Revis. While the Jets were not happy to rework Revis’ contract back in 2010 the Jets did a stellar job of protecting themselves from another holdout from their star cornerback, essentially taking away his ability to collect some money in the offseason to support a holdout position throughout the summer.
Per terms of the CBA the Jets would still have the legal right to attack most of Revis’ money if he held out. The CBA gives teams the ability to go after offseason roster bonuses, reporting bonuses, option bonuses, etc… if the player holds out in the year that he earned the money. Still it becomes a long drawn out process to get that money back in small chunks over the course of the season. With the protection in Revis’ contract its much simpler- the Jets simply do not pay it.
One of the things that has confused me in the whole Revis debate yesterday is whether or not participation at workouts can force him to lose his other bonuses. I have seen deals where escalators and de-escalators as well as incentivized bonuses are tied to workout participation, though I have never seen a post earned bonus affected by lack of participation in a voluntary workout. Through numerous Twitter discussions yesterday I think contract guru Joel Corry pointed out that it was the mandatory offseason activities that are a condition of his earning his offseason bonuses not participation in workouts. Failing to complete his workouts simply has him missing out on a $1 million dollar check.
— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) April 7, 2013
Just to point out the overall contract structure of Revis’ deal, minus these conditions, is not unique as some method to prevent a holdout. The Jets probably tie more money into offseason bonuses than any team in the NFL. I don’t know if that will continue with a new general manger but that is pretty much a fact. The Jets are big believers in offseason participation and to ensure it they offer large bonuses to players to attend voluntary workouts. This was a big point of contention in 2011 during the lockout because the Jets players had so much money to lose. Per my records the Jets have 9 players who have the chance to earn at least $100,000 by attending offseason workouts, 4 of whom have bonuses greater than $500,000. Revis tops the list at $1 million. D’Brickashaw Ferguson is second at $750,000.
The Jets have also used reporting bonuses in their contracts. I think it was Ferguson who was the first of their younger guys to receive reporting bonuses towards the end of his contract. Mangold also has them in his deal. Offseason roster bonuses are neither uncommon nor do they have anything to do with holdout prevention. Typically an offseason roster bonus is designed to force a team to make a decision on a players future before free agency kicks in. There is nothing worse for a player than to be cut in late April after all the free agent dollars have been used up by the other 31 teams. This forces the team to at least give the player a “parting gift” if they change their mind and move on at a later date. Again Revis’ conditions are unique to a holdout but the presence of the bonus is not. Offseason money is a benefit to a player in most situations.
Revis’ situation is a bit unique in that the team is looking to trade him though it would not be the first time the Jets have moved a player that attended the early stages of workouts. In 2009 Kenyon Coleman, among others, was traded to the Cleveland Browns during the NFL draft. He ended up completing workouts with and being paid by the Browns that year. Alan Faneca was released in the middle of workouts after the Jets drafted Vlad Ducasse in the second round in 2010. The Jets paid Faneca his bonus.
Per the terms of Revis’ contract he must attend around 29 of 36 scheduled workouts if he wants to earn the $1 million dollar bonus with either the Jets or the Buccaneers, rumored to be his landing spot in a trade. Renegotiating that aspect is not really an option even if the two sides were on speaking terms as a renegotiation would limit Revis’ ability to negotiate a new long term contract with the Jets or a team he is traded to due to limitations of renegotiating a contract twice in 12 months where a pay increase is involved. The Jets are also not going to set a precedent of any type when it comes to offseason workouts.
The Jets offseason program begins on April 15. While I am not 100% certain of how this works I would imagine Revis could miss the first few days and still qualify for his $1 million dollar bonus, since it seems his bonus is tied to a number of dates not a total per week. I do not believe he could make it all the way to the draft, though, and still qualify. He would miss too many dates at that point. In the offseason Phase before the draft workouts are strictly rehab and conditioning with no contact with coaches during the workouts. Obviously he cant avoid seeing people around the office, but its more of an opportunity to get in and get out than in the later stages of the program. This could be a situation where he waits until he has more knowledge as to the Jets plans with him. If Revis does believe that the Jets will trade him he can sit these two weeks out until the draft and then deal with the Buccaneers. If Tampa signs him to an extension the fact that he did not attend 2 weeks of Jets offseason workouts will not matter. He will get his money regardless from the Buccaneers.
This is one of two strange offseason situations involving the Jets. While I think Revis’ situation is unique due to his stature and the trade possibility I do think if you have no intention of keeping a player you should release him before your offseason program begins. That is often a reason behind the early April releases for many teams. In the Jets case most feel that Tim Tebow is no longer in the teams plans. Based on the trade market last season and the rumored trade market this year the odds of finding a partner for him on draft day are next to nothing. He also does not have a role where you are finding a draft day replacement for him either. The Jets should know by now if he is or is not in their plans this season. While Tebow has no contracted workout bonuses in his deal he should be released prior to the start of workouts if the Jets want to avoid that whole situation as well.
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.