Monday, September 13, 2010

The Revis Precedent

On the surface, the new deal for cornerback Darrelle Revis would seem to be a win-win for both player and team; Revis gets his big payday and the Jets get their shutdown corner back in time for their primetime season opener. However, when you consider the amount of money Revis is going to get over the next three seasons against what the Jets got in return, one may wonder if the Jets have set a precedent that could come back to bite them in the future, not only with Revis but other players.

On his rookie contract, Revis had 2010–2012 remaining with a value of $20.5M with, practically speaking, all of that guaranteed. On his new deal, over 2010–2012, Revis will make $40M with $32.5M reportedly guaranteed. When extensions are valued by agents and teams, the important metric is the amount of new money received by the player in exchange for additional years under contract received by the team. With that in mind, over the 2010-2012 seasons that the Jets had already paid for via Revis’ rookie contract, the Jets are giving Revis an additional $19.5M. When you add the new year of 2013 and the $6M to be paid in that year, the Jets have essentially paid Revis $25.5M of new money to get one additional year under contract, and herein lays the potential problematic precedent set by the Jets.

The problem faced by the Jets was that, whether they instigated the conversation or not, they faced a player who wanted to hold them hostage despite having three years under contract; not one, and not even two. The historical precedent has been that players get new deals when they have one year left, and occasionally when they have two years left, a la Patrick Willis.

In Tennessee, the Titans faced this same predicament with a player, who like Revis, is considered to be arguably the best player at their position in running back Chris Johnson. To put a band-aid on this situation, the Titans didn’t give Johnson new money on his deal, they simply moved his $1.25M year five escalator into this year in the form of a $1.25M signing bonus but, again, gave Johnson no new money.

Prior to his extension Revis was due roughly $500K, $5M, and $15M over 2010-2012. Applying the Johnson solution to Revis, the Jets could have simply moved the money around so that he received the $15M in 2010, $5M or so in 2011 and under a million in 2012, with a wink-nod agreement that a new deal would be consummated prior to the 2012 season.

I am not saying that the Jets didn’t think of nor propose this Johnson solution to Revis, but as an alternative to accepting the Johnson solution, the Jets perhaps should have called Revis’ bluff further in lieu of capitulating and giving him $19.5M and receiving nothing in return from a contract management perspective.

Revis is clearly a difference maker on defense, but if one were purely managing this situation from a contract management perspective, they would then call Revis’ bluff and see how you fare with former Pro Bowler & contract year player (meaning motivated) Antonio Cromartie and 2010 first round pick Kyle Wilson. Perhaps the expectation set by head coach Rex Ryan and the angst of living up to those expectations resulted in the coach flexing his juice in the organization and forcing a questionable contract decision.

Not only have the Jets set a precedent that could lead to players like Mark Sanchez and/or Shonn Greene looking to reopen their deals after 2010, but there’s no guarantee that Revis isn’t going to want to reopen his deal in 2012 and definitely by 2013. In fact, I would venture to say it’s almost a certainty that Revis is getting a new deal by 2013. If Revis is willing to holdout with three years remaining on his rookie deal with $20.5M guaranteed, then do you think he’s really going to think twice about holding out again prior to 2013 when he’s due only $6M. Sure there’s the issue of his 2014-2016 voiding if he doesn’t hold out, but if he was willing to hold out with three years remaining on a deal, then he’ll surely hold out with four years remaining on a deal and thereby rendering this voidable provision toothless.

So kudos to Neil Schwartz and Darrelle Revis for getting something for nothing, and I’m guessing the Jets front office may have some disappointment after having to possibly swallow a pill forced down their throat by boastful coaching staff. Over the course of the Revis saga, we heard about the anomaly that the Nnamdi Asomugha contract is on the cornerback market; going forward, we’ll similarly be referring to the Revis extension as an anomaly in the framework of contract extensions because the Jets got nothing in return for giving Revis a boat load of money.

Follow J.I. Halsell on Twitter: @SalaryCap101

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