Is Darrelle Revis a diva? Is he a malcontent? Will he be a distraction, a problem in the locker room, a bad character? Those are some of the questions I keep seeing, and I'm a little baffled by them. Darrelle Revis has held out twice, yes -- but he was never a bad character. The issue was never how hard he worked to be a good player, or his functioning in the locker room, or even being a distraction while he's with the team.
There's only one issue with Darrelle Revis: he wants to get paid. That's what every contract has been about. When he held out as a rookie, it was about money. When he held out in 2010 coming off arguably the best season a cornerback has ever had, it was about money. Nothing else. I can't begrudge a man wanting to get paid, and I don't see how this would be a problem anyway. If the Buccaneers are going to trade for Revis, they will pay him very, very well. He will get the money he wants.
So if he gets the money he wants, what's the problem?
I've talked to other general managers who love Darrelle as a player, but there is some concern around the league. Is this player ever going to be happy? Now he has rewarded the Jets, he has given the Jets tremendous performance over the course of his contract. The flip side of that is the Jets have rewarded him handsomely from a financial standpoint.
But there's always been noise along with his contract. For one reason or another something always comes out about him wanting more money, him wanting a new contract. And if you're a team that's going to take on Darrelle Revis, yes you want this player. He's going to be one of the best workers on your team, he's going to lead, he's going to show up on Sunday. But you don't want the other noise that comes with it, because it just becomes a distraction.
To me, the key phrases aren't the distractions. That's all about contracts, and will disappear when he does get rewarded (as it has in the past). Note the other things Pioli did say: he talked about Revis being one of the best workers on the team, leading, and playing on Sunday. That, to me, is the key, not the fact that he wants to get paid. Every NFL player wants to get paid. So why not pay them, if they're worth it? And no, I don't buy that nonsense about being a man of your word and sticking to a contract for a second. NFL teams never do, so why should players? Holdouts are their only recourse. They can't quite and sign with another team.
So what about those holdouts?
Well, let's look at the history of Revis' contract rumblings. It's not that complicated. It started before he signed his first rookie contract, when he held out for more money. He was the fourteenth pick in the draft and his contract eventually compared favorably with the previous year's pick, as he managed to finagle $1 million more in guaranteed money. Well done, Revis -- and we didn't hear him talk about his contract anymore until 2010.
That's when Revis was entering the final year of his contract and when he was coming off quite possibly the best season a cornerback had ever had. He was the best cornerback in the NFL, and he was playing on a contract worth around $4 million per year, if I reverse engineered the numbers from NYJetsCap.com correctly. That's not a lot of money for the best cornerback in the NFL and arguably the best defensive player in the NFL at the time. It's not dissimilar from Donald Penn's stance back in 2010, either -- and no one's complaining about his being a malcontent.
After a protracted holdout, Revis signed in 2010 what was essentially a four-year deal worth $46 million with the New York Jets. That was a very respectable $11 million per year and near the top of the market for cornerbacks, but it didn't come close to Nnamdi Asomugha's $15 million per year deal. It also didn't come close to the top of the market at other non-quarterback positions, where pass-rushers were leading the league with deals from $12 to $14 million. So did he hold out for some ridiculous contract? No, not really. He certainly got paid well, but all the rhetoric and hyperbole about being the highest-paid defender was just bluster.
Here's another notable fact about that Darrelle Revis deal: it's filled with provisions preventing him from holding out. Most notably, if he does hold out, three years at a salary of $3 million per year get tacked onto his deal -- well below what he makes over the rest of his contract.
Did we then see malcontent Revis resurface? No. He didn't talk about wanting more money at any point after that. No reports came out about him wanting more money. There were a few rumblings about wanting a long-term contract in 2012. Those reports didn't focus on money, but just on the fact that Revis had two years left on his deal and wanted to be a Jet in the long term. He didn't threaten to hold out (because he couldn't) and didn't miss any significant offseason work. He didn't complain about the terms of his contract, and in fact repeatedly noted that he had no problem with his contract.
And ultimately, Revis did not get a contract extension, and he didn't mention any real offseason work. There was no holdout, and the distraction was minor. More importantly, though, there was a clearly defined reason: he did not have a long-term contract.
As you may note, Revis hasn't caused problems in the locker room. He has been a hard worker and a very good player on the field throughout his tenure. And his contract complaints disappeared after signing a contract. Yes, complaints re-appeared, but only when his deals were nearing an end.
Will this be an issue for the Buccaneers?
It shouldn't be, for a number of reasons. First, the Bucs will give Revis a massive contract if they manage to trade for him. That would take care of Revis' objections for at least the first three or four years of his contract, if not longer. More importantly: the Bucs can build in simple clauses in his contract to prevent holdouts, similar to the ones the Jets built into his current contract.
And for those of you worried that Revis would then stink it up in the regular season: he hasn't done that before. He's always been a good worker when he was in town. So those worries are, essentially, baseless.
If the Bucs do trade for Darrelle Revis, they won't contract any contract headaches for at least three years, and probably for the lifetime of that deal. And if those headaches do show up, they can simply ignore them. They'll build provisions into the contract that will neuter Revis' ability to turn himself into a distraction. Problem solved.
You can worry about a lot of things in this potential trade: Revis' health, his ability to get back to his normal level of play and the price the Bucs would have to pay the Jets and him to acquire him. One thing you don't need to worry about is Revis' penchant for holdouts.