The uncapped year has created some problems, one of which has led to PFF’s top-rated coverage cornerback holding out as he awaits a blockbuster deal.
With the Jets “practicing like he’s not going to be (there),” according to Rex Ryan, it seems like they’re prepared to call Darrelle Revis‘ bluff heading into the season. But are the Jets being fair with PFF’s vote for Defensive Player of the Year, or has Revis overestimated the value of a top cornerback?
All aboard … Next Stop, Revis Island?
There’s no denying that Revis is one of the best cornerbacks in the league, if not the very best. In pure coverage terms, we had him a full +11.1 points ahead of the next highest ranked CB in our gradings. No CB in recent memory produced a season like what Revis achieved in 2009:
- Allowed just 37.8 percent of balls thrown his way completed
- Surrendered a passer rating against of 32.3 during the regular season — 12.1 points lower than the nearest challenger
- Led the league with 23 pass deflections
- Completely shut down the league’s top receivers, as demonstrated in the chart below
|New Orleans Saints||Marques Colston||3||0||0||0|
|San Diego Chargers||Vincent Jackson||2||0||0||0|
|Houston Texans||Andre Johnson||2||1||7||0|
|New England Patriots||Randy Moss*||15||7||50||1|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Chad Ochocinco*||9||1||9||0|
|Buffalo Bills||Terrell Owens*||14||5||29||0|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Mike Sims-Walker||3||1||9||0|
|Carolina Panthers||Steve Smith||6||1||5||0|
|Indianapolis Colts||Reggie Wayne*||6||3||44||0|
|Atlanta Falcons||Roddy White||5||2||12||0|
*Played in two games against Revis
Everything about Revis’ game suggests he is the league’s top shutdown cornerback. There is little doubt that as a result, and with age on his side, he should be the top-paid cornerback in the league.
“Scrabble” Makes Life Harder
But this is where things get difficult. Everybody knows why the deal is falling down — Revis wants to be paid more than the $15.1m per year that Nnamdi Asomugha is getting. And understandably so. Asomugha is a talented player, but he hasn’t put together a season like Revis. Playing near exclusively as the Raiders’ right cornerback, “Scrabble” didn’t match up against a team’s top receiver in the Raiders scheme — something that accounted for a ridiculously low 28 throws in his direction.
(Note: A study by fearless PFF founder Neil Hornsby showed that quarterbacks throw twice as much to their right — and therefore at the left CBs — as they do to their left — at the right CBs).
Perhaps Asomugha could do what Revis has done, but until he does, it he can’t be regarded as the shutdown corner that Revis is. It’s safe to say Revis deserves to get paid more than Asomugha.
What Represents Market Value?
As good as Revis has been in shutting down receivers, teams are far more likely to game plan for him after his dominating season. Quarterbacks less likely to target him. Coaches more likely to be more creative in how they use their top receivers. For a player not having a direct impact on every defensive play, why should he get more money per annum than 2009’s top-ranked quarterback, Philip Rivers (who could earn $98.25m over seven years — or $14.1m per year)?
So instead it’s best to look at the other top cornerbacks and what they are getting paid:
|Team||Name||Year||Total $||Guaranteed||Years||Per Year $|
|Denver Broncos||Champ Bailey||2004||63m||Unknown||7||9|
|San Francisco 49ers||Nate Clements||2007||80m||22m||8||10m|
|Carolina Panthers||Chris Gamble||2008||53m||23m||6||8.83m|
|Indianapolis Colts||Kelvin Hayden||2009||43m||Unknown||5||8.6m|
|Atlanta Falcons||Dunta Robinson||2010||57m||22.5m||6||9.5m|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Asante Samuel||2008||57m||20m||6||9.5m|
|New York Giants||Corey Webster||2008||43.5m||Unknown||5||8.7m|
|Seattle Seahawks||Marcus Trufant||2008||50.2m||20m||6||8.37m|
|Minnesota Vikings||Antoine Winfield||2009||36m||16.1||5||7.2m|
|Green Bay Packers||Charles Woodson||2006||52m||Unknown||7||7.42m|
Figures taken from Rotoworld
It’s always important to note that contracts may sometimes be inflated, and that a lot of the money isn’t guaranteed. Even then, it’s worth noting the huge discrepancy between what the top corners are getting and what Revis wants. The most interesting deal could be that of Dunta Robinson — a player who struggled in 2009 and was nowhere near as effective as the Jets’ shutdown corner. His contract is somewhat inflated as the top-ranked free-agent cornerback, but he had more leverage than Revis, who has three (and potentially a fourth for holding out) years left on his contract.
What It All Means
Revis rightfully wants to be the highest-paid cornerback in the league. His play dictates that he should want this. But the Asomugha deal is an anomaly in the world of NFL, and Revis would be best served looking at his other peers for a more realistic value.
If the rumors are to believed (the Jets offering a lengthy deal at $12 million per year), it’s safe to say the Jets are doing right by Revis, especially at a time when he holds no leverage because of the years he has left on his contract. And why would he want to leave a team that everyone believes has Super Bowl talent with him on the field?
The Jets need Revis to challenge for a Super Bowl, but redefining the structure for cornerback contracts creates issues in the long term — not least when it comes to negotiating a new deal for PFF’s top-rated center for the past two years, Nick Mangold.
The Jets are caught in a difficult position, but playing hard ball is the right thing for the organization even if it means the best defensive player in the league doesn’t see the field.
Verdict: They shouldn’t pay, but he shouldn’t go. Work it out, fellas.