Let’s get right to it: just days before the Draft (come back tomorrow to check out The Machine’s Draft Day Drinking Game) the New York Jets and the Tampa Bay Bucs pull off a blockbuster trade. The Jets send Darrelle Revis to Tampa and in exchange receive Tampa’s first round pick (#13) and a conditional pick in 2014 (likely to be a third round pick). Tampa then signs Revis to a six year, $96 million dollar contract, making him (by far) the highest paid cornerback in the league.
So who “won” the trade? Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports argues that the Bucs got the better end of the deal, and that the Jets caved in to Revis’ demand for a trade. True, the Jets had to trade him: per his contract, they couldn’t franchise him, so if he played for them this year he walks a free man at the end of the season and the Jets get nothing. Also true, the Jets put themselves in this situation by agreeing in Revis’ contract that they could not franchise him (note to GMs: read the fine print) so they at least deserve an honorable mention teabag (does anyone really think Rex Ryan and crew are savvy, detailed oriented negotiators?)
Well, the dust has settled, and The Machine is here to tell you that the Bucs just paid a ton of fool’s gold. Mark our words: this is a horrible deal and ultimately will not end up well for Tampa Bay. Let’s break it down:
1. $16 Million Per Year? Really?
This is an incredibly absurd amount to pay a cornerback. Let’s assume, for sake of argument, that Revis plays as the Bucs hope, and that he’s the best cornerback in the league. Even if that’s true, $16 million per year is way above market. The next highest paid cornerback: Champ Bailey at $11.5 million. That’s a $4.5 million dollar gap between them, and a 40% increase. Rarely, if ever, do you find that much disparity between the highest paid and second highest paid player. Here’s a breakdown of the Top 2 paid players at other positions:
QB: Joe Flacco ($20.1 million), Drew Brees ($20 million). % increase: 0.5%
RB: Adrian Peterson ($11.25 million), Chris Johnson ($10 million). % increase: 12.5%
WR: Calvin Johnson ($16.2 million), Larry Fitzgerald ($16.1 million) % increase: 0.6%
Now, Aaron Rodgers will likely eclipse Flacco as the highest paid QB, but The Machine guarantees you it won’t be 40% more than Flacco.
What makes that number even more absurd is that there was no bidding war. There was no other team that was driving the price up. Everyone knew that Tampa was the only team interested in trading for Revis. There is simply no justification for spending like a druken sailor.
2. His contract is not guaranteed
But Ginger King, you argue, the Bucs protected themselves by making sure the contract is not guaranteed. In theory, that’s true. In reality, total bullshit.
There is no way he’s not on that team for at least two years, even if he is underperforming (see Nnamdi Asomugha). The Bucs gave up a lot, so they can’t just cut and run if he doesn’t play as expected. Doing so would almost surely result in some front-office changes. And good luck getting him to restructure his contract.
So, at the very least, the contract has $32 million guaranteed (cue drunken sailor).
3. He’s coming off of ACL surgery
Did people forget that Revis played in only two games last year before blowing out his ACL and having reconstructive knee surgery? Arguably, having healthy knees is somewhat of a must have for a cornerback. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by what Adrian Peterson did last season, coming off of knee surgery and coming back stronger and better. However, AP is the exception, not the rule. It’s a big unknown whether Revis will be back to his old shut down self. In fact, we’re already hearing rumors that he might not be ready for Game 1. At $1 million dollars per game, the Bucs need an instant return on their investment.
4. Revis is the best cornerback in the NFL
Again, let’s assume that Revis fully recovers from knee surgery, and re-establishes himself as the best corner in the NFL. Good news for Tampa, right? Not so fast. You heard it here first: Revis will holdout. It’s in his blood to hold out. He held out before even playing a game, and has been nothing but a malcontent diva always in search of more money and more spotlight. If he is the best corner, you can guarantee he’ll argue he’s outperformed his contract, that the $16 million was watered down to account for potential knee problems, and that a fully healthy Revis (we assume he talks in the third person) is worth more. The Bucs remedy (unless they cave and pay him more) is to cut him, which they won’t want to do because they won’t want to have the NFL’s top cornerback walk away and get nothing in return (sound familiar?).
No argument that Revis, if healthy, is the best corner in the game. But you have to ask the question is he worth it? He’s devisive and not what you would call a team player. And at $1 million dollars per game, you want a guy that makes Tim Tebow look like a whore.
In short, there’s no way this works out well for the Bucs long term. They grossly overpaid for a player with an unproven knee. If he plays well, he’ll hold out for more cash and if he underperforms, the Bucs can cut him but will be admitting defeat and will become the laughing stock of the league. The contract just reeks of desperation. At the very least, the first year of this deal should have been heavily incentive laden; with easy to moderate levels of reachable incentives (games played, ints, fumble recoveries, etc.). This would protect the Bucs in case he doesn’t come back 100% from surgery. If he performs, then you give him the $16 million. Instead, they just write him a $16 million dollar check. That’s questionable decision making from the front office.
While it will take the rest of the sports world a year or two to realize this, The Machine can smell a bad deal right away. And this friends, is a bad deal.
Enjoy your teabag.