Thoughts on the Revis Contract with the Buccaneers


According to Jenna Laine (and multiple other outlets) Darrelle Revis’ new contract with the Buccaneers will average $16 million a season with no guaranteed money. The contract appears to be a straight $16 million a year in cash contract.

The APY of the deal will match that of DE Mario Williams but will fall short of the yearly cash flows of the first two years of Williams’ DeMarcus Ware, and Terrell Suggs if the reports of the cap structure are true. The contract signals a very different approach between the negotiations between Revis and the New York Jets in the past and the current deal with the Buccaneers.

In 2010 the Jets and Revis entered into a very bitter renegotiation  when Revis held out following a historic 2009 season that put the cornerback on the map as something more than just a good player, but in the discussion of being a Hall of Fame level talent. Revis had some major sticking points in that contract which included a desire to be the highest paid cornerback in the NFL and having firm guarantees in his contract. At the time he was looking to match the 3 year cash flows of Nnamdi Asomugha, then of the Raiders, who signed a contract that was completely out of the whack with the rest of the position and the league, and then translate that APY to a long term deal.

At one point during negotiations Revis’ business manager publically took to Twitter to mock a contract signed by D’Brickashaw Ferguson for containing injury only protection that would roll over to full guarantees if he made it to a certain date on the Jets roster. A comparison was deals signed by Master P, whose incentive laden deal for RB Ricky Williams was the subject of ridicule for many years by those inside the sport. The Jets were rumored to have offered Revis close to $100 million dollars over a very long period but Revis’ people fought back in the press on the basis that it contained no real guarantees to protect Revis.

Eventually the two sides settled on a contract in which Revis would match the 2 year payout the Raiders gave to Asomugha but not the three year total. The contract would be short term rather than long term but with 46% of the deal fully guaranteed and all but the $6 million payout in the fourth and final year of the deal “functionally guaranteed”.

Fast forward three years and Revis is agreeing to a contract with absolutely no guarantees in the contract, and seemingly not matching the cash flows of the biggest defensive players in the game during the meaningful years of the contract. It shows just how important that APY and distinction of being the highest paid defender was to him.

From the Buccaneers perspective this looks to be a very team friendly contract. They did not have to cave in on their standard no bonus structure and will take no dead money penalties if Revis is unhealthy and not worth the money. Compare that with the Jets who will now take a $12 million dollar dead money hit to watch Revis play as a Buccaneer. The high cash payments likely negate a Revis hold out, something he had done twice with the Jets and supposedly wanted to do last season as well, but was contractually blocked from doing so. At $16 million a year and with a stagnant salary cap and de-emphasizing of the position Revis likely has no avenue to ever make more money by holding out.

This will be the first defensive contract since the Asomugha contract to “break the system” in terms of positional valuation. At $16 million a year this represents a value that is around 64% higher than that of the 5th highest paid corner. It is unlikely that any player, especially one on defense, can have that kind of impact on a game to justify the high price tag. Of the other teams who “broke the system” and overslotted cap for specific players only the Vikings and Adrian Peterson made the playoffs last season. The other teams to overslot were the Cardinals (Larry Fitzgerald), Titans (Chris Johnson), and Lions (Calvin Johnson). So Revis will get an opportunity to prove a league wrong about the valuations placed on certain positions.

If he fails to do so the Buccaneers won’t hesitate to let him go and it will likely be another GM making the call. The Buccaneers have geared up via free agency and trades to compete now for the playoffs. They have many pieces in place and this will put tremendous pressure on QB Josh Freeman, in a contract year, to up his level of play to match that of some of the star players they have put on the team.  If they fail these are the type of moves that see a front office completely turn over.