Outside of NFL Draft Prospects and potential free agent additions, the hottest debate topic circulating the New York Jets at the current time is undoubtedly the recent news that the Jets will look into trading Cornerback Darrelle Revis. When discussing a team’s best player, one who is arguably the best defensive player in the entire league, debates are destined to gain intensity. Unfortunately, there will not be much clarity on this situation until the new league year begins in March. However, there are certainly strong arguments that can be made both in favor of and against trading Revis. Here, the Turn On The Jets staff gives their take using three basic points -
1.) Position value vs. Contract Terms/Salary
2.) Possible Trade Compensation
3.) Are Cornerbacks vital to success in today’s NFL?
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1.) Position value vs. Contract Terms/Salary - It is surely difficult to argue against the value of a dominant cornerback in today’s NFL considering how offenses in the league have evolved over recent years. Darrelle Revis is surely more than just a cornerback, he is a player who consistently takes 1/11th of opposing offenses away on a weekly basis. When preparing for a Revis-led secondary, teams often need to adjust their game plans accordingly, taking away from time that would normally be spent on overall preparation against a team with two cornerbacks who are simply considered to be “good.”
Having said that, New York has two top tier cornerbacks on their roster. While Antonio Cromartie surely isn’t in the class that Revis consistently reminds us is occupied solely by number 24, he is a more than capable player who can be successful with money spent across the board to provide a better supporting cast.
The question here isn’t really whether or not the Jets should trade away their best player because, unfortunately, it runs much deeper than that. Speaking solely from a football standpoint, making Revis a Jet for life is a no brainer, something that 31 other teams would love to do, as well. However, this goes beyond what Revis can provide on the field. While it is easy to subscribe to the notion of “just pay the man,” the Jets would be foolish to commit $16 million per season to a cornerback, even if that cornerback has the potential to be among the greatest to ever play the position.
As noted above, offenses in the NFL are evolving into the most complex passing attacks that the sport has ever seen. The Jets, on the other hand, are well behind in this evolution. There is no denying how putrid New York’s offense was last season. In a nutshell, the Jets have been trying to invent the wheel while the rest of the league is nearing NASA like technology.
Yes, Tony Sparano proved to be a poor hire. The recent acquisition of Marty Mornhinweg as offensive coordinator has given some ray of hope for the Jets to begin to catch up with the remainder of the league in terms of offensive relevancy. Unfortunately, however, the Jets still lack vital components in their offensive personnel that can give them an offense capable of having success in today’s game. Paying that type of money to a cornerback would even further prohibit the Jets from acquiring the necessary players to put a competitive offensive unit on the field. The salary cap space that a long term contract like that would eat up would be crippling to a team that all but needs an entire offensive overhaul, outside of about 3-4 players.
When looking at the position value vs. money spent, consider the fact that only two quarterbacks, a position that is unquestionably the most important in the NFL today, make over $16 million per season, on average. Outside of Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, both of whom have won Super Bowls, Eli Manning (2 Super Bowls), Tom Brady (3 Super Bowls), Ben Roethlisberger (2 Super Bowls), and every other signal caller in the league make less money per year, on average, than what Revis is asking for. Tying up so much money at a position that, although important, could certainly be won with above average players at, would set this franchise back even further than the 6-10 mess that was on display this past season.
2.) Possible Trade Compensation - The notion that Revis’s value will be hindered by his ACL injury last season is a valid concern. However, the reality of the situation is that, with so many holes all over the roster, the Jets simply cannot afford to have two top tier cornerbacks eating up so much cap space.
The idea of trading Antonio Cromartie has been floated for a few reasons. First, it is easy to look at the numbers for next season and realize that Cromartie counts more toward the cap than Revis does. This is true. However, beyond 2013, Revis’s number will grow astronomically if given the salary he is reportedly seeking.
Look at some of the biggest contracts around the league and consider how much those annual salaries counted toward the cap last year. Peyton Manning had a 2012 base salary of $18 million, all of which counted against the cap. Drew Brees had a base salary of just $3 million, but counted for $10.4 million against the cap, a number likely to jump significantly next season. Eli Manning’s base was only $1.75 million, but counted for $9.6 million against the cap, a number that will likely increase as he enters the years of his contract with a larger base salary. Simply put, there is no way around the cap hit of a contract similar to the one Revis is looking to land. Terms can be altered and adjusted so some years are less than others, but the bottom line is that, at some point, that cap number is going to be a problem for whoever ends up paying Revis when they’re looking to spend money on the other 52 roster spots. If you’re a well balanced, strongly built team, this is not as significant of an issue. Unfortunately, the Jets are anything but.
Beyond the cap number, a growing desire to trade Cromartie seems to be out of the idea that, with Revis coming off of an ACL injury, the two players will have equal trade value. This could not be further from the truth. While Cromartie is certainly coming off one of the best, if not the best, years of his career, no team would be willing to part with more than a 2nd round pick for him. An injured Revis will likely garner not only a 1st rounder, but multiple other picks, and possibly players as well. As one General Manager has reportedly claimed, the interest in Revis could be “one of the biggest potential trade markets for a player ever.” Regardless of the season Cromartie had, it was in no way, shape, or form comparable to what a healthy Revis could provide. It is capable to win with a cornerback like Cromartie on a roster where money is spent to improve other positions, but alone, there is simply no way that his market is equivalent to that of Revis.
The amount of compensation that the Jets will get in return for Revis is surely a big factor in this decision, regardless of how anyone looks at it. Unfortunately, however, without a long term solution to keeping Revis, the trade needs to be done. The Jets can absolutely not allow Revis to enter a contract year, return to form, and then walk at the conclusion of the season, leaving them with nothing but a compensatory pick in return.
Revis is surely a once in a generation type player, but in terms of the current situation, that is a double-edged sword. Yes, it would be a tough decision to trade a player of his caliber. But at the same time, for a team looking to completely restructure their roster over the course of the next few years, there is no better trade piece to use outside of an elite quarterback or pass rusher.
Consider history for a moment. Prior to the 2009 season, then New England Patriot Richard Seymour found himself entering a contract year with the team that used the 6th overall pick to select him, only a few years prior. With no long term solution in place, and fear of losing him to free agency following the season with nothing in return, the Patriots traded the 3 time Super Bowl Champion, 5 time Pro Bowler, and 3 time 1st team All-Pro to the Oakland Raiders for a 1st round draft pick. Seymour was a player in his prime who had been a vital piece to the championships that New England had won earlier in the decade. How could the Patriots trade him away?
The answer is simple. New England had a long term vision for the overall well being of the franchise. The situation with Seymour was no part of that plan in anyway. For the Patriots, it was either let him play out his remaining year, let him hit the open market, and sign with another team, for absolutely nothing in return, or resign him to a long extension, and allow the one position to eat up a tremendous amount of salary cap space (Remember, Seymour was made the highest paid defensive player in the league in 2011 when the Raiders gave him a 2 year $30 million extension). To New England, there was really no positive solution to keeping Seymour, regardless of how vital he had been to the team’s past success. Instead, Bill Belichick and the Patriots front office jumped on such a significant offer from Oakland without blinking.
So, how did it work out? Since acquiring Seymour, Oakland has gone 25-39 over four seasons, while sacrificing a significant chunk of cap space and money to him, depriving other spots throughout the roster. Although Seymour was selected to 2 Pro Bowls as a Raider, the team never finished better than third in the AFC West since the trade was made.
The Patriots, on the other hand, used the 1st round pick sent from Oakland to select Nate Solder, a young offensive tackle who has been a key part to an offensive unit that has been among the best the league has seen in recent years. Since shipping Seymour to Oakland, New England has gone 49-15 with 4 divisional crowns and 1 Conference title. At the present time, the Patriots remain a few pieces away from a return to the Super Bowl, while Oakland will likely allow Seymour to walk as a free agent this year, with nothing to show for it outside of a third place divisional finish.
This is not to compare Seymour to Revis. Was Seymour the caliber of player that Revis was at the time of the trade? No, but he is certainly no slouch. Seymour had 3 championships, 5 Pro Bowl appearances, and was selected to 3 All-Pro teams. Unfortunately for him, however, his demands were not in the best interest of the franchise. New England sold high, and it paid off significantly. Coming off a serious injury, trading Revis now may not return the same compensation that trading him following the 2009 season would have, but with no long term solution in place, this is the highest his value will be while under contract with the Jets.
3.) Are Cornerbacks vital to success in today’s NFL? - Yes and no. With how the league is trending, having an elite, shutdown cornerback would presumably give any team a monstrous defensive advantage. This is certainly tough to argue, but in relevancy to other vital positions, cornerback ranks 4th behind quarterback, offensive line, and pass rushing defensive front 7 personnel.
Look to the final four team’s of this year’s playoff tournament. Not one of them sent a cornerback to the Pro Bowl, nor did anyone of them see a cornerback reach the All-Pro team. Conversely, when lumping quarterback, offensive line, and defensive front 7 personnel into one category, the Ravens, 49ers, Falcons, and Patriots collectively sent 13 players to the Pro Bowl, including 5 to the All-Pro 1st team, and 6 to the All-Pro 2nd team.
Is this to say team’s with quality cornerbacks are not successful? Of course not. Champ Bailey, a Pro Bowler and 2nd team All-Pro selection, was part of a Denver Broncos team that finished with a regular season record of 13-3, earning the AFC’s top seed. Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks, who made the Pro Bowl and was a 1st Team All-Pro selection, was a vital piece to his team’s success that included a divisional crown and finished one poor defensive drive short of reaching the NFC Championship Game. Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings of the Chicago Bears were both voted to the Pro Bowl, and received 1st and 2nd team All-Pro accolades, respectively. Chicago was tremendous at taking the ball away this season, and finished a respectable 10-6 in a tough division, but fell just short of the playoffs before seeing Head Coach Lovie Smith receive his pink slip.
So, on the question of whether or not cornerbacks are vital to success in today’s NFL, the answer depends on how an organization defines success. Is success a top seed in the playoffs, a divisional title, or a winning record? Or is success conference championships and Super Bowls? The majority of those employed by NFL teams will surely choose the latter.
Looking at recent Super Bowl champion teams, even the most dedicated football fan will have trouble naming each team’s starting cornerbacks. Conversely, when asked to name the quarterbacks or pass rushers on those teams, that same fan will rattle off names like Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Ben Roethlisberger, along with Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Michael Strahan, Clay Matthews, Will Smith, James Harrison, and LaMarr Woodley, among others. In fact, a 1st team All-Pro cornerback has not won a Super Bowl since Ty Law did it with the New England Patriots in 2003.
The bottom line is that while Revis is undoubtedly one of the best players in the NFL, his price tag is simply going to be too much for the Jets. This isn’t a matter of being too cheap to pay him. Woody Johnson has been bashed by countless fans and analysts over the past year for caring only about ticket sales and revenue. Why then, would he trade away his biggest attraction, rather than paying him his price? It is because this is a cap space issue. Simply put, Revis is worthy of some type of big pay day, there is no doubt about it. Will some team give him his record breaking contract? Probably. But that team will likely have nowhere near the amount of holes on their roster that the Jets do.
New York has been criticized for not investing enough into the offensive side of the ball, something that has been widely viewed as being the sole factor that has held them back from being consistently competitive over the past decade or so. For the Jets to end their streak of offensive ineptitude, they need to trade Revis and receive the proper compensation and salary cap relief that is needed to build a strong 53 man roster. The Jets have been top heavy in terms of player salary over the past few seasons, leading to average at best and very poor players occupying the remainder of the roster. New York cannot fix this by giving out the largest contract for a defensive player in the history of the NFL. Even if that player is Darrelle Revis.
First, let me start out by saying I am firmly in the #KeepRevis camp, and I think John Idzik and the Jets brain trust should do everything in their power to keep their best player wearing the green and white in 2013 and beyond…like, until the day he steps into Canton as a Hall of Famer-type beyond. Let me tell you why.
1.) Position value vs. Contract Terms/Salary - I don’t buy into the whole “You can’t pay a CB that much money” line of thinking because to me, Darrelle Revis is far more than “just a corner”. He is not only the best corner in the league, he may very well be the best player in the league, and as such, he has a tremendous impact in each and every game he plays. I think he’s completely justified asking for a contract in line with what the top defenders are getting paid. I’m not saying to write him a blank check and break the bank to keep him, but with all the terrible contracts on this team, I think the front office should look to make changes elsewhere and find a way to keep the GOOD players, like Darrelle.
Currently, Mario Williams is the highest paid defender in the NFL. It’s not unrealistic for Revis to get paid in the same ballpark, because he does more for a defense than a guy like Williams. Offenses have to completely game plan around Revis each week and know where he is on every play. It’s not easy going into a game knowing that throwing to your best wide receiver isn’t going to be an option that day, but that’s exactly what #24 brings to the table. Remember in the 2010-11 playoffs when the Jets played the Colts? Peyton Manning refused to even look in Reggie Wayne’s direction. That’s a Hall of Fame QB-to-WR connection, and it was completely erased from the game. Again, he’s not just a corner. He’s an elite player and does things for a team that nobody else in the league can match. He deserves to get paid, and with a ton of money able to come off the books in the next two years (Pace, Scott, Harris, Holmes, Po’uha, Sanchez), there’s no reason Revis can’t be kept while the team is rebuilt around him by drafting and developing players.
2.) Possible Trade Compensation - I think this is where a lot of Jets fans are getting jaded. Many seem to think that trading Revis is going to bring in this great haul of draft picks that will allow the team to rebuild right away and build a dynasty like the Cowboys did by trading Hershel Walker. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no Walker-type haul coming our way. The best we can hope for is a mid-to-late-1st round pick and a mid-round pick thrown in. Revis is coming off a torn ACL and is going to demand huge money from his new team, which will severely limit his trade value. I’m not an economist or anything, but I’m pretty sure the “sell while value is lowest” strategy isn’t going to get us very far. Oh, and for the people kicking around trade proposals involving established players (I’ve seen Elvis Dumervil mentioned), that’s not going to happen either. If you’re going to trade for a guy who is going to get paid handsomely, why not just keep Revis?
Here’s another newsflash: Trading away Revis isn’t going to magically get us a franchise QB who is going to lead the team to prominence. Having extra picks is good, but the draft is a major crapshoot, where more players fail than succeed. More than likely, that extra 3rd or 4th round pick we pull in will at best give us a useful role player, while the 1st round pick will give us a good player that will hopefully one day grow up to be HALF as good as the guy we are giving away.
3.) Are Cornerbacks vital to success in today’s NFL? - I’m not going to say that if you were building a team cornerback would be the most important position to fill, but what I will say is that you would probably want a superstar defender who terrifies even the best quarterbacks in the league, and that is exactly what Darrelle Revis brings to the table. He shouldn’t be viewed strictly as a corner, but rather as a superstar defensive player who makes everyone around him better. Look what happens when he’s on the field: the #2 CB never has to worry about facing the other team’s best receiver; there’s no need for safety help, which enables the safety to come up and defend against the run more (something we lacked this year), or help out against tight ends and slot receivers since Revis is on his Island; the D can send an extra blitzer if need be.
I keep hearing “There are no Pro Bowl Corners in the Super Bowl” as a reason to trade Revis, and I don’t understand that at all. There’s a major difference between “great corner” and “Revis corner”, so it’s basically a moot point. The last corner to play on Revis’s level was Deion Sanders, and last time I checked, he had a few rings on his hand and nobody was trying to trade him for pennies on the dollar. I don’t see any All-Pro receivers playing in this year’s Super Bowl either by the way, does that mean the Lions should trade Calvin Johnson too? Players who perform at that high of a level transcend their position, and should be viewed as more. In my mind, when you have a Hall of Fame-type player, you keep him and do whatever it takes to build around him, even if he’s “just a cornerback”. The Patriots win every year not because they don’t invest big money in cornerbacks; they win because they have Tom Brady. We don’t have Tom Brady, and like I said, trading Revis isn’t going to magically fix that. It’s just going to make the defense–and the team–worse.
Some may say that there being no star CB’s in this year’s Super Bowl proves that Revis is expendable. I look at it the other way and see two excellent defenses battling it out, and I don’t think there’s any reason the Jets defense can’t be just as good or better than them in the coming years, like it was in 2009 and 2010. And the number 1 reason for that being possible is Darrelle Revis. Pay the man. #KeepRevis.
1.) Position value vs. Contract Terms/Salary
A healthy Darrelle Revis will make the Jets entire team better. Except if he holds out for, and obtains the type of money that will hurt John Idzik’s chances to gain a plethora of affordable useful pieces as a result.
The Jets defense can hold teams to under 23 (23.4 avg in 2012) points or so often enough without him, that it makes the notion of dealing him at least understandable. This, if Idzik believes he can help boost the Jets 17.6 scoring average by sending him elsewhere. If the new GM can add offensive guys who can contribute to one more TD a game, to a 24.0 scoring average in 2013, imagine what the Jets win loss record could be then.
Those are the numbers that we care about the most when it comes to the notion of Revis: Points scored and points given up. Will his exit help the Jets score more?
2.) Possible Trade Compensation
Revis on two strong knees, if the Jets also throw a few perimeter guys in along with him, is worth a few first rounders..or a first and second rounder, and some vets in return. As it stands now, he’s worth less.
Maybe a club gambles away a first on Revis before seeing hos he looks in July, but we are looking more likely at a second and fourth or so for him right now. Which we believe is not enough to pull the trigger.
The bigger question comes down to, what does the Revis team want? What are they willing to fight for? We hear the “100 million dollar long term deal” rumors, but what is the truth? Once that is made known to the front office, then a clearer view can be had as to what is the more prudent path for Gang Green to take.
3.) Are Cornerbacks vital to success in today’s NFL?
Considering the type of style that Revis employs on the field Yes. Revis is not a clutcher, or a grabber. He’s a WR shadow thanks to great instinct and footwork. A guy who shuts down top threats outside, and who doesn’t get flagged for headhunting, or PI’s at all.
We are now entering a finesse phase of defense in the NFL, as the league tries to adapt to the increase of size and speed in it’s players, while concussions are being treated with the utmost caution.
Revis fits seemlessly into this new modern world that is built for passing games to succeed. He is one of the few who owns the skill set to slow it down.
He should not be dealt solely to alleviate a future cap issue. He should be dealt first and foremost, to reverse that seven point scoring differential we previously mentioned. Any other benefits of dealing him should be secondary.
We hope Revis stays, and that other solutions as to how to attack the personnel issues on offense are taken. We fear that they will not be. We worry on top of that, that Woody Johnson remembers the last two holdouts and is not in the mood for another one from the same player. Even if it is the great Revis Island.
1.) Position value vs. Contract Terms/Salary - If you want the top players you have to pay top dollar – that may sound blindingly obvious but it really is the bottom line in this whole debate. But here’s where it gets tough, because what applies to cornerbacks applies equally – if not moreso – to running backs, wide receivers, guards, and the myriad other offensive positions where the Jets need to reinvest during this off-season. So for me it’s not so much a question of can we afford to keep Revis, it’s more a case of whether or not we can afford to keep shovelling so much of our salary cap into a position which has become fundamentally devalued in the modern NFL (more of which later).
2.) Possible Trade Compensation - This is a team in transition. Or at least I hope to goodness that it is. If the Jets are going to become competitive again they have to address so many position needs that it would take a miracle for it to be achieved in one season through free agency. Consequently draft picks are going to be valuable beyond all measure over the coming years, and although I wouldn’t expect much more than maybe a third-rounder in 2013 with a conditional first in 2014, it’s sensible to look at the situation logically and build for the future by saying farewell.
3.) Are Cornerbacks vital to success in today’s NFL? - Darrelle Revis is way beyond great. In fact, he’s better than most people realize, because not only is he one of the three genuinely elite modern-day cornerbacks who can lay claim to the title of “Shutdown Corner” (add Rod Woodson and Deion Sanders) but he’s also plying his trade in a league where the odds have been stacked against him. Quite honestly, I find it hard to convince myself that he’s not one of the greatest players to have ever set foot on a gridiron.
But ironically, what makes him great is what also makes him expendable. In the modern game there’s a growing trend towards sacrificing cornerbacks at the expense of developing an effective pass rush. Why? Because with recent changes to pass interference rules, any team that tries to defend the pass by relying on its secondary is fighting a losing battle from the outset.
Therefore my preference – and the path I think the team will in fact take – would be to ditch Revis in order to bring in a couple of pass-rushing OLBs who are able to capitalize on the awesome two-gapping work of Mo Wilkerson. If Quinton Coples also continues to develop as a 3-4 defensive end – and there’s no reason to think that he won’t – then this is by far the Jets best chance of building an effective pass defense going forward.
In cap terms the Jets are down to their bare bones, and like it or not, Revis is a luxury that they simply can’t afford.