Should they pay or should he go? Darrelle Revis

| August 11, 2010

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
Team Name Thrown At Receptions Yards TDs
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.

mm


  • manleysteele

    I agree on all counts. I have tried to make out a hardcore productivity rating system for my own team (the Saints) before and couldn’t ever get to the finish line with it. As you guys are well aware, it is very difficult to find a cause and effect realtionship for everything going on on a football field on any given play. If a person could measure actual productivity reliably, we could relate his pay to his performance. Revis appears to be an exception, as you know where he will be and what he will be doing on most plays. What is not included in his numbers is the play of those around him. Can we honestly say he would have these numbers in any system with any teammates? Just a thought.