The Jets versus Darrelle Revis Debate… The Shutting Down of a Shutdown Corner

Read the opposing argument from Bleacher Fan.

The last thing Americans want to hear about in the middle of the current economic crisis is a celebrity demanding more money, but that is not stopping Jets’ cornerback Darrelle Revis from trying to negotiate a new contract with the team. The reasons why such a seemingly self-centered move provokes disgust are obvious. He is a grown man that makes a seven-figure salary to play a game for a living, and makes a public spectacle of demanding more money. It is exceedingly easy to slander Revis’ name.

But is it right?

This season, Revis is entering the fourth year of his six-year rookie contract. Despite becoming arguably the most dominant cornerback in the NFL, he is not being compensated like it. Revis’ contributions to the vaunted Jets defense helped carry the team to a deep playoff run last year, but in 2010 he figures to make just $1M. While that is certainly an exorbitant amount of money to the average person, it really does not accurately reflect Revis’ value to his team. He feels that he contributes far more than his pay reflects—a theme many can relate to—and he is actually going to do something about it.

Can you really blame him for that? Is there fault in trying to do what is best for yourself and your family?

It may not sit well with society’s work ethic and the public’s sense of commitment, but at the end of the day Revis is just trying to get the best deal he can. While I don’t expect anyone to be sympathetic to the amount of money he is asking for, his position is one with which many can relate—he is more valuable than his salary reflects. He is one of the best defenders in the NFL, and he simply wants to be paid like it.

People have blamed everyone from Revis himself to Al Davis (who last year paid Nnamdi Asomugha $45.3 million), but I really think it is the Jets who are to blame. They gave into Revis’ rookie holdout demands, and now that he has proven he is even better they want him to stick to a deal he has clearly out grown. It won’t work. The Jets are going to have to come up with the cash or deal with Revis sitting out, something he seems more than prepared to do. No one is forcing New York to give him a new deal but the lack of Revis’ talent on the field each Sunday really has them between a rock and a hard place. Heck, even Mr. Jet Joe Namath sides with the kid. Revis has to have a point if this makes sense to everyone but the Jets.

Darrelle Revis knows that no matter how valuable you might seem to a team now, in the NFL things can change in an instant. This concept was made all too real for Revis when he watched just such a scenario play out over the past season and offseason with his friend and former teammate Leon Washington. Over the past four years, the former Jets running back had consistently contributed to the New York offense by serving in a variety of roles. Last season, Washington broke camp as the primary backup to Thomas Jones, but also proved valuable returning kicks, catching passes, and serving as a change-of-pace back for New York. With the departure of aging veteran Thomas Jones to free agency imminent, it appeared that Washington and sophomore Shonn Green would lead Gang Green’s ground attack for the foreseeable future, but all that came to a screeching halt with an inopportune injury.

During a week seven matchup with the Oakland Raiders, Washington suffered a nasty compound fracture to his fibula, and just like that his value shattered as quickly as his bone. The season ending injury sidelined Washington during the final year of his contract, essentially robbing him of any leverage he had on the free agent market. Adding insult to injury is the fact that Washington tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a long term deal before the 2009 season. So while recovering from a major injury without a long term deal, Washington tested free agency and found very little interest. He came crawling, or more appropriately limping back to the Jets, with a one year, $1.75M deal, which didn’t last long. The Jets turned right around and made a draft-day deal with the Seahawks for Washington. In just a short amount of time Washington went from being a fan favorite on the rise in New York to being traded for a seventh-round pick and being buried on the depth chart of a weak team.

The memory of how quickly Washington’s value dropped surely weighs heavily on Revis’ mind. While Revis might be the most valuable defensive player on the Jets, he is always just one play away from irrelevance. As a professional football player Revis has a limited time to make all the money he can. Any given Sunday could be his last, and the even sadder truth is any given down could leave him with an injury that ends his career or leaves him paralyzed. He has to earn all the money he can now. If that means he has to make opportunities for himself with unpopular actions then so be it. But before you judge him, ask yourself if you would do any different if it were your livelihood and family’s future at stake? I think an honest person would admit that although Revis’ actions maybe selfish, they are also understandable.

Revis deserves the money for the product he puts on the field week in and week out. Nobody is forcing the Jets to pay him more, but in the end it is going to be awfully hard to explain to the New York fans why they didn’t come up with the extra green, should the decision cost them the playoffs.

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