The Jets versus Darrelle Revis Debate Verdict

August 18, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Bleacher Fan.

As I stated in the intro, it seems as if this is a yearly battle with at least one marquee player or one rookie. This year, it’s Darrelle Revis’ time to be on the hot seat or put the Jets on the hot seat, depending on how you look at it. The only thing the two sides have really agreed on to this point is to keep all contract talks confidential.

No one is really questioning the fact that Darrelle Revis is underpaid. I know it. Revis knows it. Rex Ryan knows it. Woody Johnson knows it. He’s a guy who wants to be paid like the best, and as Babe Ruthless indicated, it’s hard to blame him for that. Though, I did throw my hands up in the air when I read over the weekend that he turned down a pretty lucrative contract. The bottom line is that Revis wants a big payday; much like Rod Tidwell did in Jerry Maguire. He wants someone – specifically Jets ownership – to “show him the money.”

There’s no question that the Jets are a much better team with Revis starting in the secondary. The Jets obviously are going for the championship, and they stand a much better chance of advancing with Revis in uniform, especially going up twice a year against the likes of Randy Moss and Brandon Marshall. That’s all well and good… but…

Does he really have any contractual leverage? The answer is no, and that’s why Bleacher Fan wins this debate.

It’d be one thing if Revis was entering the fourth year of a four year, $24M deal. He can fall back on the old “sign me or lose me” saying that Bleacher Fan mentioned. Maybe if Revis and his agents held out for a better deal in 2007 he wouldn’t be in this position of making just $1M this season.

What real benefit does Revis gain by holding out? Yes, he might hold his stance and eventually get his way. But at what cost? How long is he going to be out? Is he going to be in good football shape? If he misses any regular season games, will the Jets be too far behind the Patriots and Dolphins to make a run at the AFC East title? What if he’s really stubborn and sits out the entire season? He’ll still have plenty of cash to pay his satellite bill to watch the Jets on TV, but that’s not where he belongs and not where he wants to be. Sitting out any significant time also diminishes any potential legacy he likely wants to build. He should take a page out of Anquan Boldin’s book by coming to camp and letting the situation play out as it is. Boldin openly campaigned for a new deal. While he never got one Arizona, he eventually got one after a trade to Baltimore.

Injuries are certainly always a factor when considering contracts. But Revis is no different than the other players in the league in that regard. That’s why I didn’t necessarily buy into Babe’s argument. The bottom line is that Revis doesn’t have enough leverage. He’s played THREE seasons. He’s not a six or seven year veteran. In three years, Revis will be 28. Anyone want to guess how old Nnamdi Asomugha was when he signed his record deal last year? He was 27 when he signed the deal, but 28 when he took the field after signing the contract. Play out your contract, Darrelle. Your time will come.

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The NFL Rookie Pay Scale Debate – “Tell Them What You Are Going To Do In The Future”

August 11, 2009

Read the debate intro and Loyal Homer’s argument that there should be a structured system which dictates an NFL Rookie’s contract.

“The first principle of contract negotiation is don’t remind them of what you did in the past; tell them what you are going to do in the future.”
Stan Musial

If Roger Goodell and the NFL move toward a program of structuring rookie salaries, it would accomplish nothing more than to punish both the teams AND the players.

First, it punishes the team because it restricts their ability to dictate how they can administer their salaries.

The NFL Salary Cap already exists to govern and restrict the amount of money that a team can spend on player salaries. In the simplest of explanations, each team is given an allotted dollar amount that they can distribute among their players as they see fit. It is up to each team to determine for itself how to spend the money.

If, for example, Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis wants to spend $61M on quarterback JaMarcus Russell before he even takes a snap in professional play, shouldn’t that be his prerogative? While you or I may believe that it is foolish to offer that kind of money to an unproven player, it is ultimately Al Davis’ team. If he is okay with spending his money in that manner, then I say let him! There is no rule forcing the NFL team to sign these players. Ultimately, the team has to make the decision as to whether or not they feel the player is worth the value they are assigning him, not the other way around.

Consider Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn as a perfect example of this. Following the drama around his selection in the draft, Quinn decided to hold out from training camp his rookie season. Although he was selected as the 22nd pick, he (or should I say his agent, Tom Condon) felt that he was still deserving of the salary of a top ten pick. The Browns, however, disagreed. In the end, Quinn ended up missing the first 12 days of his rookie training camp before finally signing an agreement with the Browns. What did he gain from this holdout? He earned only an additional $250K in guaranteed money, and many feel the holdout cost him the opportunity at being named the Browns starter since he was so delayed in joining the team. The current system allows each team the autonomy to assign their own value to the players they draft, rather than have the value dictated to them.

Second, this policy punishes the players. Sure, there will be some “busts” in the draft who prosper from negotiated contracts, but the alternative is to strip away the earning power of a rookie who DOES perform exceedingly well.

It is true that teams cannot predict the future, and for every Peyton Manning (viewed as one of the ten best number one picks in history) there is also a Tim Couch (viewed as one of the ten worst picks). Rather than look at individual examples we can examine ALL of the top ten draft picks since 2000 to provide us with a better overall picture of the type of talent which comes from those players.

In 2008, Jake Long and the Miami Dolphins were criticized because of the high dollar amount he received as an “untested” player. Long, however, went on to be named to a Pro Bowl. Another top ten draft pick from 2008 who I feel was DESERVING of a Pro Bowl bid last year (he at a minimum earned his salary) was quarterback Matt Ryan, selected by the Atlanta Falcons.

For the remaining top ten picks still under the terms of their “rookie” contract (2005, 2006, 2007), 20% of those players have been named to at least one Pro Bowl. Players like running back Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings and left tackle Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns come to mind as other players named to the Pro Bowl as rookies.

For the years of 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004, that number increases dramatically. Of the 50 players selected in the top ten positions of their respective drafts during that timeframe, 28 of them (56%) have gone on to be named Pro Bowlers. That means that more than half of the players selected as top ten picks have developed into being considered the best players in their position.

Talent does not know age. Since 2000, approximately 40% of all the players selected as top ten picks have been named to the Pro Bowl (and that number INCLUDES the 2008 rookie class), which is proof of the very high caliber of talent coming from those selections. Since those players have a very strong likelihood of being classified as ‘best in position’ they deserve the same right to negotiate contracts as any “tenured” player in the league. Any move by the league to restrict a rookie’s salary would essentially classify them as sub-standard players until they “prove” themselves, DESPITE historical evidence which indicates otherwise.

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