The Revis Two Year Argument
Our buddy Brian Bassett of The Jets Blog today posted an excerpt from
Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column in regards to the Darrelle Revis situation that read as follows:
“I think I’m not going to feed the Darrelle Revis story yet. Not until he doesn’t show. But it’s not as simple as saying he should live by the terms of his contract. I am certainly a live-by-the-terms-of-the-contract guy. The Jets paid him, on average, $16.25 million per year in the first two years of the deal. They paid that with the full expectation that Revis would be the best defensive player in football.
We could probably argue that (DeMarcus Ware would be in the discussion), but I think Revis has proven he’s the best defender in the league over the past two years. The Jets are due to pay him $6.75 million, on average, in the last two years of the deal. Why set the contract up that way unless you fully intend to re-do Revis’ deal after two years?”
King is a legendary writer in the NFL, but it’s opinions like this that just come across as totally uninformed about the way NFL contracts work. When you look at an NFL contract the year over year cash flow has almost no meaning due to the salary cap. Much of the structure of a deal is based on the fact that teams need to provide themselves with salary cap flexibility to improve the team in the future while keeping stars, such as Revis, on the team. From a players perspective they want deals structured in way that ensures they see the maximum value possible from a contract, which is often done by taking big bonuses up front to ensure the team has a cap penalty by cutting the player early.
Consider the NFL contract similar to winning the mega millions lottery. You have an option to take all the money up front or to take it over a number of years. While one person may favor option A another may favor option B. Both have their benefits and both have their drawbacks. But the winning pot is the same in either case, just as how the NFL contract is the same regardless of the payment schedule.
Now the NFL contract is a bit different because it’s not guaranteed like the lotto payout, but for superstar level players the first four years probably have an excellent chance of being earned. Some deals may only go for three years and some may even make year 5, but four is a good balance. So with that in mind lets see how Revis’ cash payouts compare with some of the superstars in the NFL, including Ware who King is comparing Revis to in terms of greatness.
Now let’s take a look at the two year average on the front end vs back end of the deal.
The only one to make more in the secondary years is Asomugha who received no bonus money and thus has limited protection in his contract. He could be cut for a $4 million guaranteed payout in year 3 and if there is no offset protection then he pretty much took a 2 year deal worth $21 million. Everyone else sees significantly less salary in year 3 and 4. Ware falls dramatically in those middle years, by 72.9%, yet never once has there been complaints from Ware about being underpaid. Only in the case of Revis, for some reason, do people see the drop in pay as something unique. Few teams enter into a deal paying X amount of dollars in year 1 and 2 and keeps that ratio throughout the contract. Maybe teams that operate on a cash to cap type budget, but not teams like the Jets and Cowboys that work in a cap structure.
All of these players had options in the way money is paid out. Revis could have chosen a different payout schedule to keep the number high every year. Ware could have done the same. They didn’t. Most don’t. It’s nothing unusual and to claim otherwise just isn’t a fair assessment.
Finally as for King’s last point about why would the Jets have given him such a low number if they didn’t intend to renegotiate, that’s just a ridiculous point. If the Jets had every intention of renegotiating after 2011, 2012 and 2013 would have never been included in the first place. The Jets could have protected themselves with a 1 year franchise tag option while Revis would have had the same void he has now, except the deal would have voided after 2011 ended rather than the 2013 league year. They also would have never included holdout language in his contract that could potentially force him to play on a deal that is below market value from 2014-2016.
The deal was meant to be a 4 year contract. Revis’ agents knew it when they signed it. In the back of their mind they knew how it would play out, which Revis even alluded to when he signed it. Take the short term money and then hold out again and try for more. They may not have known about the new forfeiture system that was negotiated in the CBA that makes the holdout much more difficult on the player, but they knew it would be a high stakes game of chicken regardless. But from the Jets side everything they did was to get Revis on the team thru 2012 and then revisit the deal as the 2013 season would begin.