Each week, SNY will put a current player, a position, or perhaps a draft or free agent target of the Jets in the spotlight as part of our regular offseason coverage. Last week we took a look at Jay Cutler, the Chicago Bears quarterback who might hit the open market in the coming weeks. This week we turn inward and look at a proud Jet who is at the center of one of the team's biggest offseason decisions:
CB Darrelle Revis.
After a miserable season in which he was a shell of his former self it seems like a pretty simple decision for the Jets to let Darrelle Revis go -- especially since he's due $15 million in salary and bonuses in 2017 and his cap number is $15.3 million.
He'll be 32 years old in July. His skills seem to be declining and he's going to cost a fortune. So it's simple, right? The Jets will cut him before his $2 million roster bonus is due on March 11?
Well, that's probably true.
Financially it makes sense. If the Jets cut Revis, they immediately clear more than $9 million off their salary cap, reducing his "dead money" cap hit to just $6 million for 2017. And thanks to offset language in his contract, they can recoup at least some of that cap money if he signs with another team. Whatever the other team pays him in 2017, subtract that from the Jets' cap hit. So if someone else pays him $6 million, the "dead money" for the Jets gets reduced to $0.
Seems like an easy call, right?
Again, probably. But the other option -- keeping him around --- is intriguing. It would involve getting Revis to accept a pay cut -- at least to that $6 million number (anything over that makes little sense). The idea would be that if the Jets are going to have to pay him $6 million no matter what (that's how much of his 2017 salary is guaranteed), and if he is going to count $6 million (or thereabouts) against the cap anyway, isn't it better if he's actually playing for them?
Because he's 32, not 39. It's very possible he's not done. It's possible that last season was an aberration in his career, brought about by injury and weight issues that he can concur going forward. It's also possible that he can have a late-career surge after making the transition from cornerback to safety, just like Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson, Ronde Barber and many others proved.
So as bad as Revis was last year, as much as a liability as he was to the Jets' secondary, and as much as a punching bag he became in some corners of the media, we're still talking about a Hall of Fame-caliber player. It might be worth erring on the side of his immense talent rather than dismissing him and watching him revitalize his career someplace else.
Also, remember this: Revis didn't turn into a locker room cancer last season when things were going wrong. While there were definitely problems in the locker room, including a touch of an offense vs. defense war, Revis kept his dignity and was still viewed by his teammates as a leader. Despite harsh -- and in some cases unfair -- media attacks, he remained almost always a professional, a team spokesman, with carefully considered words.
The Jets are going to have to rebuild their secondary. They have several young, promising defensive backs including Juston Burris, Nick Marshall, Daryl Roberts, and Marcus Williams. They could do a lot worse than having Revis as a mentor, someone to help them be a pro, sit next to them in the meeting room.
Is that enough to keep him around for what would be his ninth Jets season overall? Probably not. There's also no guarantee that Revis, who has been a shrewd negotiator and is known for maximizing his financial value throughout his career, would even be willing to take a pay cut. That $6 million he'll cost the Jets this season is in the form of a partially guaranteed salary. That means he gets $6 million from the Jets no matter what.
So maybe he'll decide it's best to pocket that check and then collect additional salary and bonuses from someone else.
All that will have to be decided by March 11. And since the Jets are cap-strapped -- they are estimated to be just $3-5 million under the projected salary cap after declining left tackle Ryan Clady's option on Wednesday (with obviously more moves to come) -- they probably need to make that decision by March 9, when the free-agent signing period opens.
All signs are pointing towards a Revis departure, which seems to make the most sense for both sides. But it's not a simple decision. And there are definitely at least a few compelling reasons to keep him around.