One of many offseason riddles the Jets have to answer is how to handle star cornerback Darrelle Revis. Revis, who is coming off ACL surgery and has one year left on his contract, has said he has wanted to be a Jet for life, but recent rumors suggest the possibility of Revis being traded before the 2013 season begins. Chris Nimbley and I debate if dealing Revis is the right move for the franchise.
1. What do you think the handling of the Darrelle Revis situation says about the direction of the franchise?
Chris: If the Jets hold onto Revis, but let him walk after next season (only receiving a compensatory pick in return), it would show the Jets thought they could make one more run at the playoffs with Revis, but ultimately decided they couldn’t allow one player, as great as he is, to continue eating up such a high percentage of the team’s cap space. If the Jets decide to keep him and re-sign him, it shows how much they value Revis, not only as a player but also as a part of this franchise. It would also signal more of a win now approach.
Revis is still in his prime years but it’d be hard to justify paying a veteran corner top money if you’re in a rebuilding mode and it could end up as wasted money and wasted years of a great career. If they keep Revis they must look to reload, not rebuild. The decision to trade or keep Revis will tell us a lot about the direction new GM John Idzik plans to take in revamping the Jets. Does he blow it up and start from scratch? Or does he look to do some simple remodeling?
Joe: If Revis is dealt, the Jets are admitting they aren’t only a few pieces away from sustainable success. It would be wrong to call it a rebuilding process considering the Jets defense proved last season that life without Revis is possible, ranking second in the NFL in passing yards allowed (189.8 ypg) along with being ranked in the top half of the league in total yards allowed per game and points allowed per game (and who knows, with just average quarterback play a possible playoff berth).
But everyone’s eyes can tell the Jets offense is the more pressing issue for this franchise. Whether it is through the draft or via trade, the Jets need an infusion of talent on the offensive side of the football. John Idzik’s decision with Revis will shed light on what direction the franchise is heading, but I don’t think dealing Revis necessarily means the Jets are in rebuilding mode.
2. What do you expect to receive in return for trading Revis?
Chris: If I’m Idzik, for me to even consider trading Revis we start with; a first round pick plus two more picks (maybe a third this year and a conditional second or third in 2014 based on his performance next season). Any team offering less than that gets to meet my dial tone.
The Falcons traded away five draft picks for Julio Jones, you can’t tell me that if Julio Jones was worth five picks (and he was/is), Revis isn’t worth at least three. I understand Revis is coming off a season ending ACL injury and is seeking a record setting contract, but he is a proven veteran and one of, if not, the best corners in the history of the game. As good as Jones turned out to be, he was just a soon to be rookie receiver (with some injury concerns as well) when the Falcons traded for him. The Falcons risked that many picks for Jones because he was a perfect fit to immediately help their offense, Revis would offer the same instant upgrade to any defense he goes to and teams like the Broncos, Rams, Lions, Packers, Buccaneers, Vikings and many more should have no issues coughing up at minimum three draft picks for Revis.
The problem with such a scenario is the Jets have to cash those draft picks into quality players. In the Julio Jones trade, the Brown’s didn’t make their picks count. The players they drafted with the Falcons’ picks turned into: DT Phil Taylor, WR Greg Little, FB Owen Marecic and QB Brandon Weeden (they traded the fifth pick away in a separate deal). The Falcons would do that trade over and over again, however the Browns could have drafted Muhammad Wilkerson, Randall Cobb, Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson with those picks, which would put that trade in an entirely different light. If the Jets are going to trade Revis, they need picks and they need to make them count.
Joe: Of course, any deal is worth it if the price is right. But what is the minimum offer to accept in trading Revis? The keys are: 1. Will the Jets will be receiving offers that bring back an offensive player in return and 2. Will the Jets be receiving offers that bring back more than two draft picks?
Without an offensive player being received, the Jets cannot receive less than two draft picks and must include a first rounder. It will be real disappointing to see any package that resembles a 2013 first round pick and along with a second pick in 2013 or 2014 between rounds two through five. Of course receiving three picks would be better, but with Revis coming off injury added to the contract he is demanding, is it certain that teams will be throwing three-pick packages at the Jets?
The example people have been pointing out is Champ Bailey in 2004, where the Broncos sent away Clinton Portis (coming off a 1,591 yard, 14 TD season) and a second round pick. The only problem with that is Bailey wasn’t coming off ACL surgery. If the Jets receive offers that bring back that type of quality offensive weapon with a draft pick, how can they say no? There is no successful equation for the NFL draft and receiving multiple picks doesn’t ensure an injection of talent and without seeing Revis play since injury, it feels like a no-brainer.
But let’s say the Jets cannot receive an offensive player plus a pick in return for Revis and aren’t offered more than two draft choices. As tough as it would be to part with a player of his caliber for something that isn’t a sure thing, I would the two picks and move forward. In the end, making those picks count is the most important part of any equation.
3) For what Revis is reportedly asking for in terms of his next contract, is an elite corner worth that much money?
Chris: If there were no salary cap this would be so much easier. Woody Johnson would build Revis his own Scrooge McDuck money pit and simply refill it every offseason. But the problem isn’t can Johnson afford to pay Revis what he wants, it’s a question of whether it makes sense to tie up such a high percentage of your cap on just one cornerback. No matter how amazing he is, it’s easy to say no, a corner shouldn’t tie up that much of your cap. It’s easy to think only a quarterback is worth taking up so much cap space, but I feel like Revis’ injury and the Jets impressive secondary play without him has made people forget just how good this guy is. When healthy, Revis shuts down every team’s number one receiver. Offenses have to build their entire game plan around him, having him allows Rex Ryan to run all the man coverages and aggressive style defenses he loves. Revis may be only one man, but when he’s out on the field he makes the other 10 defenders out there with him better, simply by walking on the field.
The NFL has clearly become more offensive oriented and passing based, which to some is a reason to trade Revis, to me it’s the exact reason not to. With the NFL becoming such a high-octane passing league, don’t you want the one guy who can and has shut damn near every receiver down? There’s no denying it’d be easier to rebuild with the extra cap space if they traded Revis, but the easiest way usually isn’t the best way.
The Jets problems the past few years had nothing to do with having so much money tied up in their corners, it was having too much money tied up into players who didn’t produce anywhere near the value of their contracts (Sanchez, Scott, Pace, Harris, etc.). Teams can survive paying exorbitant amounts of money for players that play up to their contract; it’s the ones that don’t live up to their contracts that kill them. If the Sanchez, Scott, Pace, Harris and others money was put to better use, no one would even question if Revis was worth the money because he’s that good.
Joe: I just can’t justify a cornerback being worth the money that Revis is reportedly asking for. Every team’s situation is different and the philosophies that drive how teams are built differ in a variety of ways.
Locking up that one top-tier talent can work but many other things go right. Nailing multiple drafts (developing top level draft picks, finding late round gems, etc), filling out the rest of the roster efficiently, distributing team-friendly contracts and having the ability to substitute talent in and out when other players become successful (not being able to hold multiple large contracts).
The issue is when something goes awry, the ability to dig out of the hole becomes more difficult. The concerns are that player not living up to their ability after the contract, injuries, and team chemistry with that player. There’s even the possibility of that natural decline in desire of a player after earning the big deal (not that I put Revis in this category). I rather have some flexibility in where to direct the franchise instead of having a few high-level deals that don’t pan out and then the franchise is stuck in neutral for a multiple seasons. In my opinion, the Jets just aren’t in the right stage as a team to be that tied up at cornerback right now.
4. Because of Revis’s popularity with the Jets fan base, should the Jets even entertain trading a player that means so much to the franchise besides his play on the field?
Chris: This question is being asked solely because it’s a question we keep hearing, I think it’s safe to say we both think it’s a silly question.
The fans and their feelings should play no part in the football decisions a franchise makes, none. Listening to fans is the best way to cripple a franchise. Whatever the Jets decide to do with Revis, and or any other player in the future, has to be about making the best decision to improve the football team. If Idzik and the Jets think making a certain move will help improve their football team then that’s the move they have to make, popular or not, if the moves works out the fans will quickly forgive.
Joe: Revis means more to the Jets organization than just his play on the field, but what the fans think cannot be a deciding factor in this decision. As much as fans want Revis to remain on the team, no one will say it is worth it going to a non-playoff implication game in December in 30-degree weather to see Revis. Unpopular decisions are the most difficult, but any fan rather be competing for Division titles than cheering for a favorite player when the games don’t matter.
5. Should the Jets keep Revis?
Chris: Trading a superstar is difficult in every sport because you’ll never receive equal value. This is no different because there is no one equal to Revis. You can debate the value of Revis in comparison to other positions (quarterbacks, pass rushers), but as far as corners go he is second to none. I’m not worried about how he’ll bounce back from the injury (Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles seemed to do all right). Revis is as hard working and determined as anyone else and he’s such an elite corner because of his upper body strength, incredible hip flexibility and outstanding technique. He’s an extremely gifted, physical athlete but it’s his technical ability that makes him possibly the best corner to ever play. An ACL injury isn’t going to change any of that.
If I’m Idzik I’m not trading Revis, I’m going to keep him and re-sign him (I think the $16 million a year number being floated is inflated, probably closer to $12 million) and I’m going to focus on rebuilding the roster by trimming the fat elsewhere.
If they trade Revis they’d actually take a $3 million cap hit next year and the only money they would save in the long run is from not signing him and using the money they would’ve used for him on other players. So if the Jets trade Revis, they set themselves back even further next year with less wiggle room in the cap to improve and lose their best player without having the ability to upgrade their roster until the 2014 offseason. I’d keep Revis and spend this offseason and the next figuring out how to manipulate the cap to create room for Revis and still have money available to revamp the roster.
Maybe trade Antonio Cromartie. Sure he won’t get more than a third round pick, but that could free up money and free it up immediately, along with the cuts we all know are coming with Scott, Pace, the Smiths and others. Ride out Sanchez’s contract next year until some of that and others can come off the books and rebuild from there, but rebuild with the best cornerback to ever play the game.
We’ve become so spoiled by how good Revis is. We poke and prod until we can find an excuse to knock him down a peg, his game is so flawless that people resort to saying he’s not involved on every play (yes he is, because every offensive play call is made with Revis in mind) and act like him wanting to make the most money possible means he has less value.
In a time where passing rules football, I’m not trading the best pass defender in the game.
Joe: The Jets should trade Revis. There wasn’t one team in these NFL playoffs that didn’t have some sort of dynamic offensive threat and the Jets have zero. The league is about offense and the Jets need help in that department as soon as possible by any means necessary. The movement of Revis has to result in the improvement in the offense.
It’s tough to say what anyone’s thoughts would’ve been if Revis never were injured, but the defense stepped up without him. The reward of keeping Revis isn’t high enough unless you’re in the camp that believes Sanchez will turn it around, or some other quarterback in free agency is going to give this offense a complete 180-degree spin. Having a top five defense will not mean anything if the offense can’t score over 20 points a game.
If dealing Revis is the most effective path to right the offensive ship, the Jets have to take their chances of trying to bring back an impactful offensive player along with building through the draft. The more draft choices you accumulate, the more chances you have of finding a player who sticks around in the NFL.
It is just not the right time for the franchise to keep Revis.