The Revis Two Year Argument
Our buddy Brian Bassett of The Jets Blog today posted an excerpt from
Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column in regards to the Darrelle Revis situation that read as follows:
“I think I’m not going to feed the Darrelle Revis story yet. Not until he doesn’t show. But it’s not as simple as saying he should live by the terms of his contract. I am certainly a live-by-the-terms-of-the-contract guy. The Jets paid him, on average, $16.25 million per year in the first two years of the deal. They paid that with the full expectation that Revis would be the best defensive player in football.
We could probably argue that (DeMarcus Ware would be in the discussion), but I think Revis has proven he’s the best defender in the league over the past two years. The Jets are due to pay him $6.75 million, on average, in the last two years of the deal. Why set the contract up that way unless you fully intend to re-do Revis’ deal after two years?”
King is a legendary writer in the NFL, but it’s opinions like this that just come across as totally uninformed about the way NFL contracts work. When you look at an NFL contract the year over year cash flow has almost no meaning due to the salary cap. Much of the structure of a deal is based on the fact that teams need to provide themselves with salary cap flexibility to improve the team in the future while keeping stars, such as Revis, on the team. From a players perspective they want deals structured in way that ensures they see the maximum value possible from a contract, which is often done by taking big bonuses up front to ensure the team has a cap penalty by cutting the player early.
Consider the NFL contract similar to winning the mega millions lottery. You have an option to take all the money up front or to take it over a number of years. While one person may favor option A another may favor option B. Both have their benefits and both have their drawbacks. But the winning pot is the same in either case, just as how the NFL contract is the same regardless of the payment schedule.
Now the NFL contract is a bit different because it’s not guaranteed like the lotto payout, but for superstar level players the first four years probably have an excellent chance of being earned. Some deals may only go for three years and some may even make year 5, but four is a good balance. So with that in mind lets see how Revis’ cash payouts compare with some of the superstars in the NFL, including Ware who King is comparing Revis to in terms of greatness.
Now let’s take a look at the two year average on the front end vs back end of the deal.
The only one to make more in the secondary years is Asomugha who received no bonus money and thus has limited protection in his contract. He could be cut for a $4 million guaranteed payout in year 3 and if there is no offset protection then he pretty much took a 2 year deal worth $21 million. Everyone else sees significantly less salary in year 3 and 4. Ware falls dramatically in those middle years, by 72.9%, yet never once has there been complaints from Ware about being underpaid. Only in the case of Revis, for some reason, do people see the drop in pay as something unique. Few teams enter into a deal paying X amount of dollars in year 1 and 2 and keeps that ratio throughout the contract. Maybe teams that operate on a cash to cap type budget, but not teams like the Jets and Cowboys that work in a cap structure.
All of these players had options in the way money is paid out. Revis could have chosen a different payout schedule to keep the number high every year. Ware could have done the same. They didn’t. Most don’t. It’s nothing unusual and to claim otherwise just isn’t a fair assessment.
Finally as for King’s last point about why would the Jets have given him such a low number if they didn’t intend to renegotiate, that’s just a ridiculous point. If the Jets had every intention of renegotiating after 2011, 2012 and 2013 would have never been included in the first place. The Jets could have protected themselves with a 1 year franchise tag option while Revis would have had the same void he has now, except the deal would have voided after 2011 ended rather than the 2013 league year. They also would have never included holdout language in his contract that could potentially force him to play on a deal that is below market value from 2014-2016.
The deal was meant to be a 4 year contract. Revis’ agents knew it when they signed it. In the back of their mind they knew how it would play out, which Revis even alluded to when he signed it. Take the short term money and then hold out again and try for more. They may not have known about the new forfeiture system that was negotiated in the CBA that makes the holdout much more difficult on the player, but they knew it would be a high stakes game of chicken regardless. But from the Jets side everything they did was to get Revis on the team thru 2012 and then revisit the deal as the 2013 season would begin.
Whenever someone says it's not about the money ... it's about the $$$$
But, now that the first two years have passed and Revis is seemingly still sitting atop the mountain, they would revisit the contract in order to keep him happy.
We have already seen the poor performance from our UNHAPPY prima donna wide receivers.
The Jets are seriously fixing the defense (and - fingers crossed - the offense). Now does not seem to be the time to piss off your star defender.
If this is going to be a rebuilding year, then let Revis sit and stew. If, on the other hand, we are going to make a serious run for the big dance, then we can ill afford to "try to keep it going with bailing wire and chewing gum" like we did this past season.
Woody has already demonstrated he is not afraid to throw money into the hat for a championship caliber team. The only concern would be how much cap space the Jets can afford.
I got the impression, Jason, that the Jets still have plenty of breathing room under the cap?
Jazz- The Jets dont really have a ton of breathing room since I think they need everything they can for next season. There are alot of cap dollars committed to 2013, and while there is still a great deal of flexibility they cant bring Revis' cap number much higher than it already is. I think this was the first offseason the Jets have had since 2006 where the cap could have limited their moves. Extending Revis now could hurt them in 2013. If they wait until 2013 the blow will be much softer.
However there is a limit. Is paying top dollar for the best corner as valuable as some other positions? At the end of the day Revis can only cover 1 person and/or cut-off a portion of the field. Polamalu (when healthy), Ed Reed (same) and Patrick Willis are also complete players at their respective positions that can have a greater impact
on the entire opposing offense. Though. you're more likely to get a full season out of a CB then any other defensive position, because the position requires significantly less hitting.
Now, no one can predict an underperforming player, so if you assume that evens out, you win by either having players over-perform their contract or by a better allocation of value among positions, say having high paid players at corner rather than defensive line, or vice versa. Presumably, the value of the position is included in their pay, so that too should even out, so therefore the best way to win is have players outperform, BUT if everytime they do so they want a new contract, then you cant win consistently and your more likely to lose more of your cap thru underperformance as you get less of the evening out affect over the length of the contract.
In sum, if the Revis mentality is contagious,you cannot win consistently, and so as a franchise you have to view it as a cancer. Phew!
The economics you outline in your last post are right on point. One way to win consistently you need players to outperform their contracts, and not demand a new contract (thus one of the reasons for "character" considerations -- you want guys who love the game and culture so much that they'll sacrifice their own bottom line for the team...or some might say they'll let themselves be screwed over). In any case, the other way to win consistently (at least over a period of up to 3 or 4 years) is to have a very intelligent front office that structures contracts in such a way that players are able to outperform their contracts over that period while still receiving fair market value over the long run. Eventually it should catch up with you though...which is one reason why organizations who win consistently are really remarkable.
Great article, by the way, Jason. Thanks for the chance to have intelligent football conversation.
Revis has as big of an impact as any other player in the league and deserves to be paid like it. Revis has made it very clear throughout his career that maximizing his income is more important to helping the team afford other players (I would probably do the same thing so I don't blame him for that.) Jets management knew that the contract was framed so that Revis could hold out this year and that is why they tacked on the 3 extra years in case of a hold out .
I actually think that Revis wil not hold out, but he has no incentive so say now.
They have over $80M allocated to only 7 players!
That's why the Jets want this to be a true 4 year deal. I can definitely see it from their side.
If they can get through 2013, they have so much coming off the books, the can sign him for life after that season.
Right now they just don't have the space......
I realize that Revis is not tradeable this year.
Is he tradeable April 2013 ? As good as Revis ( yes he is the best CB in football) any team paying a cornerback 15 million under the current fixed salary cap is not serious about being a super bowl contender. Give me two eight million a year corner backs and I will take my chances.
That said I dont think the Jets can offer him much of a raise. In every valuation I run his current salary comes out as the correct number, maybe even a bit high. I just think anything more and you start hurting the team. Cro and Wilson at 10 mil combined is far better value (and I cant believe Im saying that since Wilson stinks) than Revis and Cro at 23 million combined or Revis and Wilson at 17 million.
But since those aren't options, getting rid of your best pass defender is not an option, at least as long at Brady is around.
The Jets are not a Top 5 defense without Revis. May not be a Top 10 defense.......
Wilson's development (or lack there of) unfortunately only strengthens Revis's hand. A lot is being made of Wilson's poor numbers being related to his specific role as a nickelback. Is there any reason to believe that he would be more effective on the outside ?
I wonder how much of Johnson's unique ability to outplay Revis, played into his contract negotiations with the Bills.