Monday, June 14, 2010

The Brow-Raising Contract of Darrelle Revis

Cornerback Darrelle Revis and the New York Jets are currently working on a contract extension for the fourth year player; a contract that Revis has indicated should rival, if not exceed, that of Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. In 2009, Asomugha signed a three year extension that would pay him nearly $45.5 million or $15.2 million per year. The Asomugha deal stands out head and shoulders above the rest of the elite cornerback market, where players like the Eagles’ Asante Samuel and Falcons’ Dunta Robinson trail at $9.5 million per year on their respective deals.

Before we discuss a possible new contract for Revis, it should be noted that, if the Asomugha extension raised a few brows, then Revis’ rookie contract did the same. As the number 14 overall pick in the 2007 draft, Revis received a contract whose guarantee money could escalate from nearly $10.5 million up to $22.5 million and even as much as $26.5 million. To put $26.5 million guaranteed in perspective, Redskins safety LaRon Landry as the number six overall pick that year received $17.5 million guaranteed and number three overall pick tackle Joe Thomas of the Browns received $23 million guaranteed.

Revis’ rookie deal was structured in a way that practically made it a four year deal with the Jets having the ability to buy years five and six at a price tag of $15.7 million guaranteed. Under this structure, due to meeting a playtime threshold negotiated in the deal, the day after the 2010 season’s Super Bowl, Revis can pay back $1.3 million that was advanced to him in order to void 2011 and 2012. The Jets reserved the right to buyback those years by paying a $100 buyback bonus (yes that's right, $100) and guaranteeing Revis’ 2011 and 2012 salaries to the tune of the aforementioned $15.7 million, with another $4 million of possible salary escalation in 2012 based upon a point reward system that is based on Revis’ performance. Another interesting aspect of this structure is that, in the event of Revis voiding the final two years, the negotiated void-buyback structure precludes the Jets from franchising Revis in lieu of buying back 2011 and 2012.

This contract is by far one of the most unique rookie contracts in the past few years. Under this deal, Revis is scheduled to make $550,000 in 2010, and assuming a Jet buyback, Revis would make a fully guaranteed $4.85 million in 2011. In 2009, Revis was paid a $5.6 million roster bonus in addition to $560,000 in base salary and workout bonus; so Revis didn’t exactly make peanuts in 2009 and the 30% rule threshold calculation isn’t prohibitive of a new deal.

As we enter 2010, and the Jets and Revis look to do a deal, it’s not exactly absurd to envision Revis getting Asomugha type money. People get hung up on Asomugha’s $15 million average per year. While average per year is an important metric, so is the metric three year total, and it is in three year total, where Revis will more than likely equal Asomugha. Non-quarterbacks with three year totals in excess of $40 million include Asomugha ($45.5 million), Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware ($45 million), Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs ($43.4 million), Chicago’s Julius Peppers ($42.3 million), and Washington’s Albert Haynesworth ($41 million). All of these deals have been signed in the past year or so and represent the three year total market for elite defenders. Moreover, all of these defenders received guarantees equal to or greater than $40 million. So, while Revis may not equal Asomugha’s per year average, Revis should be handsomely compensated similarly to Asomugha and other elite defenders by making more than $45 million in the first three years of his new deal.

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