Saturday, March 7, 2015

Patriots Would Be Wise To Consider Leverage Gain In Revis Option

The New England Patriots may have some leverage in the Darrelle Revis situation after all.

Unbeknown to most fans and even many experts, apparently Revis became unhappy with his Patriots' contract - in particular the "limiting" second year of the deal that, while paying him handsomely for being at the top of his craft, also prohibits the four-time All Pro from dictating terms on a long-term deal in the open market...

...which shouldn't come as any surprise to anyone, let alone the Patriots, who, if rumors are to be believed, are willing to let Revis enter free agency, then try to match any offer that comes down the pike - of which there should be many.
The Patriots would be wise to retain Revis, for more reasons than one.

But this is wrong, not just because it allows Revis to set the market price in free agency, probably driving up the asking price for many as a viable "alternative" to Revis, but also it takes what little leverage the Patriots have with the corner and throws it out the window, leaving them with just a $5 million dead-money vapor trail and no shutdown corner.

 Patriots' head ball coach and defacto General manager Bill Belichick is nothing if not a leverage junkie, so it is difficult to find the logic in them just allowing Revis to hit free agency and leave the Patriots' organization with a very expensive dead-money egg on their faces.

But what can they do?  If they pick up the 2015 option on Revis, his cap hit takes up close to 20% of the Patriots' total salary cap, and makes it so that if the Patriots want to be active at in either retaining their own free agents or pursuing one from another team, they would have to start slashing salaries or cutting players.

That is, unless they employ a more aggressive approach with Revis.

The team can end all speculation about their intent with the shutdown Corner by merely picking up his 2015 option that carries with it a cool $25 million cap figure, then using the leverage provided them in the contract to force Revis to either accept a long-term extension with New England or the Patriots could turn around and deal him for players, draft picks, or both from a team of their choice...

...and if they do so before June 2nd, the cap hit is reduced from $25 million to that dead-money figure of $5 million. The math is easy, and in following this path, the Patriots come out smelling like a rose regardless of what happens.

In the first scenario, Revis agrees to a long-term extension, say 4 years, $60 million where in his $12.5 roster bonus due him on April 1st is reverted to part of a larger signing bonus that is spread across the four years and becomes the only guaranteed money on the deal - let's say $20 million - which hold the team to a $5 million cap hit each season that they pick up his option for that year, and would reduce his cap hit for 2015 by $10 million.

The second scenario is even more compelling and could get the Patriots back on track with their business philosophy that they seemingly abandoned in order to sign Revis in the first place.

In this circumstance, The Patriots pick up the team's option on Revis, but he refuses to sign a long-term extension.  The team sends out word that they are willing to trade Revis on or before the first day of the draft in exchange for whatever the highest bidder comes up with as compensation, including, but not limited to a dynamic veteran player, first round draft capital, or both.

Imagine a circumstance where New England is armed with at least two first round draft picks - including the possibility of a Top 10.  The Patriots would essentially control the entire first round of the draft, as they could move up or down as they please, more or less targeting the players they want and pretty much able to land exactly where they need to in order to select the player.

An added bonus to this scenario is that while team owner Robert Kraft would still have to cut that $12.5 million roster bonus check to Revis for being on the roster at the start of the league year on Tuesday, it would satisfy the league's mandate that the Patriots come into compliance with the actual cash spending in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement, of which the team is in arrears.

That has to happen anyway, but imagine the leverage pawn that Revis becomes in the second scenario, where the team sells him off to the highest bidder for much more than what his cap hit would have been, the repercussions potentially lasting for years if the team takes into consideration that any team willing to make a deal may do so for future considerations...

...and also limiting Revis suitors to those teams that likely won't have a direct impact on the Patriots' immediate fortunes, keeping teams like the Jets and Bills at bay by dealing him to a team outside of the division or- even better - outside of the conference.

The downside?  Even if New England decides to keep Revis with the $20 million salary, they have the best cornerback in the league as the cornerstone of a young defense on the rise, then gaining a compensatory draft pick in 2016 for losing him in free agency, if that indeed happens.

Regardless, it is likely Revis won't be happy about any of it, but he can't expect that the Patriots would just let him walk for nothing. The sky is literally the limit for New England should they choose to pick up Revis' 2015 option, and for a leverage junkie like Bill Belichick, that move should be a no-brainer.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, if he goes to market and gets $16 million we should piss him off and insist on $20 million because we said so. /sarcasm