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Some Questions Answered about Darrelle Revis' holdout
New York Jets Salary Cap Page

Answers To Your E-mail Questions on Revis

I've been getting a good deal of emails on the Revis situation the last week or so. I do try my best to answer everyone who writes, but thought it might be a good idea to just put together one page with some of the answers on them for everyone to read. If I add to this I'll simply bump it up to the top of the articles section each time its updated. Just a reminder that these answer are given to the best of my knowledge and may not be 100% accurate.

Why is Revis' salary so low this year?

There are many rules in the way to structure rookie contracts in terms of raises, guarantees, and incentive payments. Generally the payments are made early in the contract for a number of reasons. One is because the player wants the money fast, but is unable to receive it in year one due to a salary cap that is just placed on the rookies. A second is because teams want protection from having a bust on their hands that they still owe money to in the fourth or fifth years of their contract because that has negative cap consequences.

Revis's salary for the year is $550K. The way his contract is structured it actually could have been as high as $8.5 million had Revis been a bust the first two years of his deal and then exploded in 2009. Because Revis was good as a rookie that extra $7.9 million was paid out in 2008 and 2009. Revis was also advanced $431K of his 2009 salary back in 2008.

In addition Revis was also one of the few first round rookies to elect to receive a signing bonus when he signed his contract in 2007. NFL rules limit salary increases for a rookie to 25% of the salary received in year 1, but signing bonus money does not count toward calculating a raise. Had Revis waited to receive the money and used a smaller cash payment in 2007 to calculate his rookie cap hit his salary could have been as high as $2.45 million in 2010. Still that would likely not be enough for him to not stage the holdout but it would cut down on a lot of the rhetoric about being the lowest paid DB on the team.

How did the Jets not see this coming?

The reality is that at the time the Jets signed the contract with Revis the potential guarantee, if Revis proved to be a star, was about $30 million. As a draft pick that would have slotted Revis in the top 3. In the cornerback market, even in today's dollars, that would have been the highest guarantee to any player at the position. The team felt they protected themselves in this scenario by placing a clause in the contract that if Revis held out at any time before the completion of the contract then $15.7 million in guarantees would be void. That is a ton of money to allow to become non-guaranteed. So the team felt they were protected because they were set to pay Revis in the final two years of the contract as the top corner in the game. The deal really favored Revis is almost every aspect.

But three things happened. Nobody ever thought that an owner would be crazy enough to sign essentially a $45 million dollar deal, all virtually guaranteed , to a cornerback, nobody ever thought Revis would be this good, and nobody ever thought there would be an uncapped year. Of course Al Davis was crazy enough to do the deal for Nnamdi Asomugha. Even in their wildest dreams the Jets expected Revis to be along the lines of Ty Law good. He turned out to be Deion Sanders good. And in most years the Jets would have had the crutch to lean on of a salary cap when Revis threatened a holdout. Simply show the agents the cap sheets and say “we don't have the room to front any money, lets talk next year”. They can't do that in 2010. Combine those facts and the deal that initially favored Revis now financially favors the Jets and has given Revis all the reasons to stage this holdout.

If Revis holds out of the regular season do the Jets have to hold a roster spot for him?

No. Revis will be placed on the roster exempt list because he failed to report to the team. Until he reports that will not count against the teams active 53 man roster.

Won't Revis have the same problem next year of the low base salary if he really does hold out the whole season?

Not exactly. While on roster exempt status the contract continues to run as if the player played the year, he simply does not get paid for the season. In February Revis would void his deal and the Jets would have the option of either buying the contract back or potentially tagging him as a restricted free agent. Either way Revis will make a minimum of $3 million plus in 2011. While that might not be enough to stop the complaining, again it hurts the leverage of Revis as the arguments about being drastically underpaid don't hold up as well, especially if the Jets exercise the full buyback that would pay him well over $15 million for 2 years.

What power do the Jets have to force him back?

They have no power to actually make him come back. All the team can do is continue to fine Revis for missing camp at the tune of $15,888 per day. I believe camp officially runs for about 25 days, though the fines may accrue through the final preseason game which would put it around 30 days. The Jets may be able to force Revis to pay back $431,500 of the salary he was advanced to play this season if indeed Revis holds out for the season. Finally, unless the Jets did nothing to protect themselves from this situation, Revis could be forced to pay the Jets back his signing bonus proration up to $783,416. If Revis is not protected from that situation he should already be fined about $195,000 of that amount for withholding his services from camp. All totaled it would mean that Revis would throw away close to $1.7 million by holding out in addition to losing his $550K salary. That's the Jets leverage and power.

How long do these holdouts last?

That varies from person to person, but most seem to get done sooner rather than later. Revis' first holdout ended on August 15 in 2007. WR Roddy White, who is represented by the same agents as Revis, ended last years holdout on August 8. The longest recent holdouts that I can recall were the clients of Alvin Keels, the agent of Leon Washington. RB Larry Johnson, in 2007, held out until August 22 and rookie Andre Smith held out as a rookie until August 30.

Now that you mention White what did he receive?

White was looking to be the top paid receiver in the game when he held out in 2009. The eventual compromise was that he would have essentially the second highest frontloaded deal at the position behind only Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona, but with a total contract value somewhere around 8th in average per year. Of course there is a big difference between the two players. White was not the best receiver in the game. He arguably was not even top 5. Revis is the best corner in the league and by a wide margin. But in that deal could be some compromise. Make Revis the most highly paid player over a 3 or 4 year span and he will lower the supposed $16 million per year demand.

Can the Jets fine Revis during the regular season?

No I do not believe the Jets have the power to fine him once training camp ends. The Jets power in this case is to try to reclaim signing bonus money that was already paid to Revis for every game he misses

Why can't the Jets fully guarantee Revis his salary?

There is a rule in the CBA that does not allow a team to fully guarantee salary on a contract extension unless their salary in the last capped season was also fully guaranteed, which Revis' was not. The reason this rule was put in place was to avoid a situation where teams knowing that the following year would be uncapped minimized their cap charges by deferring high guaranteed compensation to the uncapped year. As it turned out it is also another way for the NFL to gain leverage on the union in the event that a year was ever uncapped such as this one. The rule only applies in an uncapped season.

What is the reallocation rule and how does it impact the Jets?

The reallocation rule is the one loophole around guaranteeing money in an uncapped year on a contract extension for a player whose salary was not fully guaranteed in the final capped year. It allows the team to allocate all the full future guarantees to the previous capped seasons in which they had cap room. The Jets always use all their cap space and in 2009 only had about $333K of unused cap space, so the Jets do not have the room to allocate Revis' future guarantees to past capped seasons.

Is there any possible way that Revis can have his salary guaranteed besides signing bonus?

The best way for Revis to accomplish this is to accept a contract format similar to that of D'Brickashaw Ferguson or Elvis Dumervil which use rolling guarantees. By using this contract mechanism Revis can choose to have his contract guaranteed for either skill or injury upon signing the contract and then would earn the other guarantee by being on the team roster at a certain date. For example if Revis chose an injury guarantee in 2011 upon signing his contract he would earn a skill guarantee for 2011 by being on the roster say February 1, 2011, thus making his 2011 salary now fully guaranteed. This is the best way around the rules that do not allow guarantees on contract extensions. The skill guarantee is far more important than an injury guarantee, despite all the negativity that surrounded the Ferguson contract.

What exactly does losing a year of service mean?

The NFL has a number of different calculations for determining how many years a player is credited for being in the league. In the case of Revis the year of service that is under consideration is years required to reach free agency. In a normal season a player needs to play for four seasons in order to reach unrestricted free agency, Revis now will only have three when he voids his contract.

What happens to Revis' contract if he sits out a full season?

Revis' contract continues to run even if he holds out for the entire year, he simply does not get paid and could potentially be required to return signing bonus and salary advance money to the Jets. Assuming he sat out 2010 and returned in 2011 he would have two years remaining on his deal, not three.

Any other question you have feel free to email or leave a comment below and I will add to the above list.

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