Revis vs Cromartie: A Trade Discussion... Tweet
Of the feedback I have gotten from last nights post on Revis the most common question coming out of Twitter is why Revis and not Cromartie. I think thatís a very fair and very valid question so Iíd like to examine both sides of the issue here. I do think that with the Jets cap situation and the fact that last season the Jets pass defense was as good as it had ever been most would agree that Revis and Cromartie is a luxury that the team no longer can afford. Both, in my mind, clearly have trade value, so I think itís a healthy argument to have on the subject.
I just wanted to get this out of the way right up front. Assuming that Revis is completely healthy there is no comparison between the two and I say that as someone who is a huge Cromartie fan. Cromartie is a Pro Bowl player who deserved to go at least twice in the last three years before finally getting the nod this past season. Revis is a first ballot Hall of Famer. Revis is something completely special when he is healthy. If Revis told the Jets that he would be willing to sign for $11-12 million a season for the next 5 years with over half of the deal guaranteed and no holdout clauses you would sign up in a heartbeat even taking into account the actual value of a corner to the overall team performance. But I donít think that is an option. His camp has made it clear for two years that he wants $16 million a year and you know if he doesnít get it that and agrees to a market deal that two years from now we are right back in the same place with the threats of holdouts and all the drama associated with it. But talentwise he is a superior player.
There are three angles we need to look at here. The first is the short term finances associated with both moves from a cap perspective. Both players have roster bonuses coming their way this season so the decision has to come quickly for both players. Cromartieís bonus is due the 3rd day of free agency and Revisí the fifth, so all assumptions are based on trades before the due date. If we look at the short term itís a no brainer who goes. Trading Cromartie saves the Jets $8.25 million in cap space in 2013 while trading Revis results in a $3 million dollar cap loss for the Jets. Even from a PR perspective when certain reporters trample the dead money allocations one is $2.5 million while the other is $12 million. One looks genius while one makes the cap management look incompetent. Trade Cromartie now, get that money in here and earmark it to improve the team.
The mid range perspective is our two year cap window. In Revis case we take a $3 million dollar net loss in 2013, but assuming he is not re-signed in 2014 we avoid the $9 million in dead money we would have on the books in 2014. Thatís $18 million in cap allocations that goes to Revis if he stays and only $12 million if he goes. Thatís a net $6 million gain over the two year window. In the same scenario Cromartie saves you the $8.25 million in 2013 and $1.25 million of dead money in 2014 so the net gain in his case is $9.5 million. Again thatís a benefit to trading Cromartie but the gap narrows considerably.
The long term plan is where I want to look at my options of the position itself. Above we are talking about moving on from the players but I am not taking into account the fact that there is a longer term cost associated with one staying. Cromartie is set to count for $10.75 million against the cap in 2014 in what would be the final year of his contract. If you were to trade Revis you would extend Cromartie. Now Cromartie will likely not be as cheap as he was on his last contract where he was paid as a low level number 1 or high level number 2. Iíd imagine you are looking at close to $10 million a season. Realistically, if extended in 2014, that probably means cap numbers around $8 million in 2014, $9 million in 2015, $11 million in 2016, and maybe $11.4 million in 2017 if he was to get that far. Beyond that itís the dead money costs which would be between $2.5 and $5 million.
On the other hand if you trade Cromartie you have made the decision to go all in on Revis, which for the sake of argument, lets say means you go towards Julius Peppers money at $14 million a year. At that point your cap numbers are more of the magnitude of $10 million in 2014, $12 million in 2015, $14 million in 2016, and $15 million in 2017. Revis also has existing prorations on his deal that would complicate those numbers because you would add $3 million a year to the 14-16 numbers or you would significantly increase his dead money in 2018 compared to Cromarties. So the cost is probably going to be, on average, around $5 million more a year over the 2014-2017 seasons. That is pretty significant.
I think both players trade value is impacted by the fact that both would likely get a new contract if traded. This isnít a one year on the cheap rental like the Jets could have had with Cromartie back in 2010. This is a team that is going to invest either $50 or $70 million in a cornerback that is either 29 or 28 years old at the time of signing. Both also have certain issues that impact their value. In Revisí case itís a knee reconstruction and he has missed 17 games in the last three years. I think there are concerns with how well Cromartie fits in with other teams. He can be very outspoken, apparently both on and off the record. On top of that I do think there is more of a concern with his style of play which is based highly on athleticism holding up the way most elite corners games hold up when they make the turn past 30. I'd also note that the short window to trade Cromartie could be much more difficult than the short window to trade Revis simply because of the reputations of the players. Teams will always bite when you dangle an elite player, but not some much on a very good one, especially one owed a $2.3 million dollar bonus almost as soon as you make the trade.
My feeling is that Revis, under any circumstance, will eventually get you a number 1 draft pick. Those picks are like gold. If you can uncover the next DeMarcus Ware or Jason Pierre Paul with that pick and have that player at cap charges of $2-4 million a year you are taking a great leap forward. If you can package two picks to grab a QB and hope for an RGIII you have moved your team forward far more than it would go with Revis. Of course the negative is that you can end up with the next Vernon Gholston as well. Thatís the risk you take. Cromartie I doubt gets more than a 3. While there are gems to be uncovered there the hit rate is significantly less. You are reaching at that point and hoping to be the team that beats the odds. It doesnít usually happen. You have a far better chance in round 1.
If the Jets were to trade Revis though, they have to spend that pick or the saved money on quality replacement talent. Trading Revis and then using that first round pick on a cornerback is silly. So is using it on some high risk position like WR. You have to have a plan to use that asset in ways that do not miss. If you look back on the John Abraham trade as Abraham for Nick Mangold straight up itís a bad trade. The worst starting center in the league is not that much less effective than the best. But the money that was saved on Abraham was more or less what allowed the Jets to pursue players like Damien Woody and Bart Scott, players that were instrumental in the Jets getting to those AFC Title games. Safe positional draft picks and money on safer free agents wonít cause the stir of ďI cant believe we traded him for thisÖĒ. Trust me that would have happened if Abraham turned into Joseph Addai or Chad Jackson even if the team brought in a guy like Woody.
Keeping Things Intact
I do think that this is an option that a lot of fans favor. I think its important to note the hypothetical of both staying leads to the Jets earmarking $19.75 million for both players in cap dollars in 2013. Thatís a huge amount of money. Factor in the fact that if you do not re-sign Revis its another $9 million in dead money in 2014 and thatís essentially $28.75 million in cap spend for 1 year of two grade A cornerbacks on the Jets. If you feel that this is worth it then by all means you keep both players.
The thing is I just donít know what more you can get out of the secondary by putting Revis back into the mix. I go back to 2011 when the Jets had so much invested in corner that they completely neglected Safety and pass rush and the big pass plays skyrocketed because Eric Smith and Jim Leonhard could not cover for that period of time. The 2012 version of Cromartie and Wilson was almost just as effective as Revis and Cromartie the year before. I think we also need to look at just what it brings to the Jets.
The Jets were an 8 win football team in 2011. They were a 6 win football team in 2012 against a ridiculously easy schedule. They lost 7 games by double digit points, 6 of which were by more than 17 points. Thatís not a player away from being relevant. Thatís a team going nowhere fast. You never say never in the NFL, but if the short term plan is to just stay intact what would make you think that Revis with Cromartie is the difference between 6 and 10 wins, which is the number teams really need to strive for?
I donít think any logical argument could be made that the team is significantly better with both players on the field. I can buy the argument that Cromartie saving them money makes them better in 2013 as long as its spent somewhere and I can buy the argument that a short term loss in cap will make the Jets a better club in 2014 and beyond. But I just cant buy the argument that the Jets are in a position where they should keep this spend happening in the secondary. This isnít a team that lost in the AFC Title game and needed a new corner like what happened in 2009 when Peyton Manning picked on Lito Sheppard and Drew Coleman and everyone else not named Revis in the second half of that game. This is a 6 win team with no Quarterback and no offensive talent whatsoever in a league where offense is dominating the sport.
I guess things really depend on your preferences for the Jets. Each decision comes with a tradeoff. If you believe that the Jets can compete in the short term and that Revisí contributions are that far superior to his peers then the logical move is to trade Cromartie and keep Revis. While it hampers your ability to sign players in the future it locks up the best corner in the game. If you see more of a long term plan in place then its Revis who should go and Cromartie is the person who takes over the full time role as corner number 1. Revis brings you better draft picks and more money in future years to spend but to fully realize it you probably are sacrificing some short term cap room. A difficult choice but one the Jets need to make pretty quickly as they overhaul this roster for the future.