Before general manager John Idzik could even be formally introduced he is already dealing with a controversy. According to CBSsports.com reporter Jason LaCanfora New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is looking at trade possibilities for all-pro cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Revis suffered a season ending knee injury tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on September 23rd against the Miami Dolphins. Recovery timetables vary but many players have come back successfully from this type of injury.
Jets fans, along with the rest of the country, saw Revis holdout in 2010 on the HBO, NFL based show “Hard Knocks” which featured the Jets that season. Revis had played three years of his rookie contract and was looking for a long term extension. The Jets eventually came to a compromise “band-aid” or bridge contract, four years $46 million, with $32.5 million being paid within the first two seasons.
There were provisions to prevent Revis from holding-out as three years would be added to the contract, at a bargain salary, if a holdout took place. Another incentive to avoid a holdout was Revis could not be restricted (franchise/transition tagged) in anyway after the 2013 season. The contract structure suggested the team would attempt to give Revis a long term deal before its conclusion, although Revis felt it should have happened last year while the Jets preferred this offseason.
Unfortunately the Jets failed to see the bigger picture, be it Revis’ health status, or the team’s restrictive finances when an extension would be discussed. With Revis’ recovery still a question and the Jets having salary cap issues signing him to an extension right now is not feasible.
Trading him before this year’s draft doesn’t make much sense as any team would be acquiring an injured player knowing he can’t be stopped from going to free agency next season. The Jets will get little trade value from a team on a possible one year player rental.
The Jets would be in a better position if they could have Revis to play under his current contract, see if he’s recovered from the injury, than franchise him before the free agency period in 2014 giving them some leverage to work out a long term deal.
Thanks to the Jets short sighted approach, giving up their right to tag Revis, they have now put themselves in a no win situation. Once Revis gets past the 2013 trade deadline he’s as good as gone since he’ll get to the open market, basically Revis holds all the leverage.
So what if Revis proves he’s healthy and the Jets can’t reach an agreement to extend him? One alternative is a sign and trade but the team acquiring Revis will understand the Jets are desperate and could just wait until Revis hits free agency without giving up anything, especially if they have a contract offer in place Revis would accept.
The Jets cause this dilemma by not allowing Revis to be restricted after his contract ran out. Imagine if the New Orleans Saints didn’t have the ability to tag Drew Brees last year, he’d likely be with another team. So giving up the only means to hold on to a superstar player is an unconscionable decision.
It is doubtful given Revis’ injury status right now that the Jets would be able to get fair value in a trade and can’t contemplate offering a long term contract until Revis shows he is healthy enough. This trade talk will only get stronger going into training camp and the preseason and while Jets fans would like to keep Revis for his career all the current variables leaves an undeterminable outcome to this situation.