My Take on the Darrelle Revis Saga
I hear a lot of talk about this on sports talk radio and from Jet fans. I love the business and contractual side of professional sports. It is why I will earn my juris doctorate in Sports & Entertainment Law.
Let’s get some facts straight here.
Darrelle Revis is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL. It CAN be argued now. It couldn’t be in 2009. Corey Webster is just as good as he is, to be perfectly objective across the board; he’s just not as well-known.
However, the issue is Revis’ contract.
According to Revis and his agent, Revis was told by Mike Tannenbaum (General Manager of the New York Jets) and Woody Johnson (Owner of the Jets) that they would renegotiate with him this summer, back when they agreed to terms just prior to the 2010 season — terms that I had accurately predicted down to the DATE, as Tom Mulcahy will verify — a full month before it took place. You figured it would come down to this situation this summer, as the deal was basically front-loaded with a huge signing bonus.
As NFL players, that’s basically what you play for.
The interesting thing with Revis, or any football player for that matter, is you want to maximize your earning leverage while you’re in your prime — for as long as you can. That’s what he’s doing. As my father used to always say (I don’t think it works in other leagues, but it DOES in the NFL), have these guys play year to year or at MOST, on two year deals. That’s effectively what they do anyway. Why does anyone have an issue with what Revis is doing? He wants to ensure that he is the highest paid CB in the NFL, as he is again arguably the best CB in the NFL. You cannot do that if you sign 5-6 year deals, frontloaded, with two-tiered bonuses that are paid out for the first two years of the deal, and low per-year salaries.
The cynical couch potato will use the typical “Oh well, he makes millions playing a GAME” or “They already make too much!” (while the owners make 100 times more than even the highest paid players in the league, but the OWNERS don’t “MAKE TOO MUCH”???) But if you are in Revis’ shoes, I would renegotiate every year or every two years to get the maximum signing bonuses. If not, you risk turning into Osi Umenyiora, and end up watching guys who are only 2/3 or half as good as you are, making twice what you make. The only way to ensure that you make more than everyone else, as the best player at your position, is to negotiate in this manner. Besides, after a typical 6 year, $100 million contract, the team is going to want you to renegotiate after the second year anyway, as your cap number will be so high that your contract will hamstring the organization from paying other free agents. Either they will be “forced” to cut you, or renegotiate regardless.
So why is Revis being vilified?