Since the beginning of the new league year this past Tuesday, rumors have been swirling, speculating trade partners for New York Jets Cornerback Darrelle Revis. It has been the common train of thought that Revis will inevitably be moved at some point this offseason, for the Jets cannot afford to pay him an astronomical annual salary and could risk losing him for nothing more than a 2015 compensatory draft pick if he signs with another club after the 2013 season.
There have been teams identified as possible Revis landing spots including Tampa Bay, San Francisco, and most recently, New England. Outside of Tampa Bay, virtually every named landing spot has been nothing more than speculation – where the general public, media, and unnamed NFL personnel see as a potential destination based on team needs, cap space, and available compensation to provide to New York in such a trade.
So what’s taking so long for a deal to be made? According to various media outlets, anonymous league sources have declared that the Jets would be foolish not to move Revis. Those same sources have reportedly claimed that the Jets will never get fair value for their best player considering his 2012 ACL tear and the fact that he is looking for a major contract beyond 2013.
So let’s think about this for a minute. According to various league sources, all of whom are unnamed, the Jets will never get fair value for Revis, but are foolish for not acting quickly in trading arguably the franchise’s best player since Joe Namath. Wait…What? You mean to tell me that this organization is carelessly declining offers for their best player, all of which would return value that is not nearly adequate for the type of player that he is?
In the words of Hall of Fame Tight End and current ESPN analyst Mike Ditka, “Stop It.” Jets General Manager John Idzik is handling this exactly how he should be. Calm, cool, and collected. There’s a number of reasons as to why a deal has not been made yet. First, let’s look at the speculated market for Revis to explain why nothing has transpired as of late.
The 49ers have recently become one of the top teams in the NFL for a variety of reasons. Aside from hiring Jim Harbaugh as Head Coach just two seasons ago, this team has been on the rise for years through strategic draft building and smart, efficient free agent acquisitions. The 49ers were as close as a team could get to claiming the most coveted title in all of sports last year. Would a player like Revis put them over the hump? Quite possibly. But could they also get there with less? Again, quite possibly.
Sure, San Francisco’s cornerback situation is in need of improvement. The core of their defense is built from the front to the back. NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, and Aldon Smith are the heart and soul of that defensive unit. The secondary needs an upgrade, but does it need one as significant and expensive as Revis? Today, the 49ers made it clear they did not feel as though it did. The team hosted free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, and both sides are reportedly close to a deal. Scratch them off the list.
What about New England? What about committing yourself to a mental institution if you think that trade will actually happen? It has been reported that if the Jets divisional rival, the team they have been trying to catch up with since the beginning of the millennium, were to offer a package including their first round pick in this year’s draft in exchange for Revis, New York would have to accept. Despite the ridiculous notion of Idzik beginning his tenure as Jets GM by sending his best player to his biggest foe, there are a number of reasons as to why the Patriots would never make this trade.
First, look to Revis’s contractual history. In just 6 seasons in the league, the star CB has already staged two contract hold outs. Whether you blame the player, his agents, or the organization is irrelevant to this argument. The bottom line is that this is an issue that will seemingly be prevalent as long as Sean Gilbert, Revis’s uncle and advisor, is in his camp. Gilbert himself once held out an entire season in protest of more money, rather than play for the salary he was under contract for. Whether or not Revis ever holds out again, there will be always be the speculation and threat.
Why is that important here? Because Bill Belichick plays hardball with no one. Look what happened recently with Wes Welker, a player who broke receiving records and had 100 receptions or more in all but one season during his time in New England. The organization made an offer. Welker did not feel as if it was fair. The Patriots encouraged Welker to test the market and signed wide receiver Danny Amendola to a 5 year contract in the meantime.
And Welker is simply one case. What about Richard Seymour? Ty Law? Players once viewed as untouchable in New England were moved without hesitation for attempting to push around Belichick and the Patriots. Do you think Belichick wants to even entertain the thought of what Revis’s camp and contract demands will bring to New England? Not a chance.
Then, of course, there is the argument that the Patriots would sacrifice the trade compensation to New York for a one year rental because Revis would be the piece to get them back to hoisting the Lombardi trophy. Maybe. Maybe not. But if you think for a minute that Belichick would aid the Jets rebuilding effort by providing them with the ammunition to do so, in the form of draft picks, to acquire one player for one year, then you haven’t glanced toward Foxboro in the past decade.
So what about Tampa Bay? They have the cap space. They have a great need at cornerback. They have the picks to provide adequate compensation, so what’s the hold up?
Think about everything you have read up until this point and ask yourself that question again. The Buccaneers need a cornerback and the Jets know it. The Jets would reportedly like to move Revis and the Buccaneers know it. There is no other realistic trade partner at this point and both sides know it. That’s what you call a stand off.
Tampa Bay is bidding against themselves for Revis. They will make low ball offers to the Jets because, despite their glaring need at the position, they know the Jets need to move Revis. Yet, this is where the Buccaneers are wrong and is exactly why they may end up missing out on acquiring the once in a generation cornerback.
Reports have been circulating that New York is “determined” to move Revis. This is a manipulated proclamation. The Jets aren’t determined on anything involving one player. They are determined to put together the best possible plan for an organization rehabilitation. If that means moving Revis, it will need to be for proper compensation. Otherwise, Idzik, a seemingly disciplined man, would already be straying from his plan. That alone would be a poor start to his reign as Jets General Manager, never mind the trade itself.
Are the Jets listening to offers for Revis? Absolutely. Why? Because they are determined to exhaust all options to rebuild their roster and to improve the overall organization, while building some much needed sustainability. If a trade offer comes along that Idzik feels as though will help them do that, he will take it. If it doesn’t, he will begin to look at other options.
What could those other options be? The Jets surely don’t want to sign Revis to an extension, right? Wrong. Idzik is doing his due dilligence. If he concludes it is in the best interest of his plan to close the phones on any Revis deal because he doesn’t like what he is hearing, he will do so.
So then why hasn’t he or owner Woody Johnson reached out to Revis and his agents to discuss an extension? What’s the rush? Revis is under contract with the Jets for the 2013 season. Idzik has all the time in the world to worry about an extension. Now is the time when teams are putting together their respective rosters for the 2013 season as they head into the draft. These teams want to have an idea of what veterans they will have in place before the draft, so they can develop a draft strategy.
Idzik has the luxury of not having to worry about this. The Jets are in a position where they are void of talent across the board and simply need to select the best player available with each pick they have in April. There’s no single piece they can add that is immediately fixing this roster. This is a plan about acquiring talent and piecing together the puzzle as they move forward.
So while teams low ball the Jets with trade offers for Revis, Idzik is simply going about his business to scout and evaluate college talent in preparation of executing his plan to acquire quality players in the draft. If an offer comes in that he thinks will help his plan, he will consider it. Until then, he is following his own schedule, while the market for cornerbacks sets itself.
If nothing comes to fruition by the time this step of his plan is complete for the 2013 season, then Idzik will evaluate the roster as a whole. At that point, it is a possibility he will see Revis as a piece that, paired with the young talent acquired through the draft, is essential to the rebuild. At that point he will also have an idea of what market value for an elite cornerback is. And it is at that point that he will open contract discussions with the Revis camp.
There is no reason to jump the gun now. Contrary to popular belief, Idzik is not desperate. Why go into negotiations blindly? There is no clear market value for Revis right now with the immense amount of free agent cornerback acquisitions taking place throughout the league. When the dust settles, the value will be more clear. Then, Idzik can prepare a plan, and perhaps an offer for Revis.
If an extension cannot be agreed upon at that point, then Idzik has to simply audition his star conrerback prior to the 2013 trade deadline. He has the luxury of allowing Revis to prove he is still Revis. If the player proves that, then the proper compensation will come. If he does not, then perhaps Revis and Co. revisit the hypothetical extension aforementioned.
The bottom line is, there are countless routes to go here. Idzik and the Jets will explore each of them thoroughly and make a calculated decision, one that will undoubtedly be in the best interest of the long term health of the club. The Jets are in a transition period. The roster has been blown up. Now it is time to carefully and methodically piece it back together with stronger blocks. For Idzik, this race is a marathon. It is not a sprint. Rest assured, New York’s new commander in chief will take no short cuts. He is in this for the long haul.