The National Football League is one of the most profitable sports leagues in the world and it seems to be getting more popular every day. Even though the majority of the owners are getting more and more money every year, the players’ contracts stay relatively the same size. There is one player though that is not afraid to draw a line in the sand and he doesn’t mind what the world says about him and that that is New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Today’s contracts for players is all about the guaranteed money and nobody knows this more than Revis. He has constantly demanded to be paid as one of the top cornerbacks in the game and for the most part he has gotten his wish. His mentality is starting to be replicated by some of the other cornerbacks in the league like Seattle’s Richard Sherman and Arizona’s Patrick Peterson. Not enough players are willing to bet on themselves and that is something that players should start doing.
Nothing shows Revis’ mentality when it comes to contract negotiation better than his deal with the New England Patriots last season. The Patriots have a history of being frugal and getting rid of fan favorites for money reasons. After getting cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there was some talk about Revis possibly being at the end of his career. He was a year removed from his ACL surgery and he had one of his worst statistical seasons in his career as he had two interceptions and only 11 passes defended. Revis played the market and took a little less money to make sure he was put in a position to win.
The deal that Revis signed with New England was a two-year deal worth $32 million. The money was spread out in such a way though that he only made $12 million in 2014 with a cap hit of $7 million. Revis had a good season and played a crucial role in the Patriots Super Bowl winning defense. This put the Patriots in a tough position because they could either pay him the $20 million with a $25 million cap hit or cut him and stomach the $5 million in dead money.
Revis fought one of the stingier and smarter teams in the league and won. After he was cut by New England, he signed a five-year, $70 million contract with $39 million guaranteed. That is one of the biggest contracts ever signed by a cornerback and Revis showed how to play the market.
Too often, teams are able to get out of contracts without much penalty. They sign these $40+ million contracts and after the first two to three seasons where the guaranteed money is paid out, they demand the player restructure or they cut him. It is good to see a player try and make his contract last for the vast majority by spreading out some of the guaranteed money throughout the deal and having his roster bonuses kick in on the final day of the previous season rather than the first couple of days.
While the rest of the league isn’t taking pay cuts, they don’t have the confidence in their ability like Revis does. Teams are willing to shell out some big money for top of the line free agents and if a player is willing to bet on themselves they can make more than if they settle. Revis has been labeled greedy and selfish, but at the end of the day free agents are usually mercenaries. The majority of the time they take the most money and sometimes they are alright with forgoing the possibility of winning a championship if that means they get that extra money that a lower place team can offer.
At the end of the day, players need to do everything in their power to make sure they get as much money as possible. The league is seeing an increase in the numbers of players who are retiring early due to worries over their physical and mental health. When the day comes that Revis does retire, every general manager in the league prays that he doesn’t become an agent because he would be a fierce negotiator and perhaps tougher than Drew Rosenhaus or baseball’s Scott Boras.