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Friday, February 22, 2013
Jets shouldn't rush Revis decision

By Rich Cimini
ESPNNewYork.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- When it comes to The Darrelle Revis Question -- to trade or not to trade? -- the New York Jets should consider the reverse-Bart Scott approach.

Wait.

They should wait at least until the end of the preseason before deciding whether to give their star cornerback the biggest contract in franchise history or to send him off in a blockbuster deal.

Unless the Jets receive an offer they can't refuse, patience is the play. Ordinarily, you'd want to make a decision before the draft, but this is an unusual situation because Revis is coming off major knee surgery and it's hard to gauge his true value -- both in dollars and in potential trade compensation.

Darrelle Revis
Darrelle Revis totaled 11 tackles, one fumble recovery and an interception before going down with an ACL injury in September.

Let him return to the field and prove he's the Revis of old. Right now, with the lingering health question, the Jets would be hard-pressed to get anything close to equal value in a trade -- and it would be a shame to unload one of the best players in franchise history for something ordinary.

The same logic applies if the Jets decide they want to extend his contract with a mega-deal: Wait until he's healthy. We're talking about a major investment here, and they need to be absolutely certain he's not damaged goods.

There are rumblings around the NFL scouting combine that the Jets could opt for the wait-and-see approach. League sources describe new general manager John Idzik as a patient man, and you can bet Rex Ryan is in his ear, lobbying for a Revis return.

When healthy, Revis is one of the premier defensive players in the league, but the market for his services could be tempered by the injury and a flat salary cap, according to an informal poll of NFL types. The cap is expected to remain flat through at least 2015, and we're talking about a player who believes he's worth franchise-quarterback money.

"It's a muddled picture at best," ESPN analyst and former GM Bill Polian said of a potential Revis market. "You don't know what he is. As a front-office person, you have to assume an injured player is injured until proven otherwise.

"You have a flat cap; that's an issue," he continued. "More importantly, you have an injured player. That's an issue, too. The cap is predictable, but rehab isn't. These are all things that affect the process going forward."

Seahawks GM John Schneider also questioned whether there would be a strong market for Revis.

"There are a couple of teams that are in real good (cap) situations, but as a whole, I'm not sure if we'll see a ton of teams going out and doing a whole lot right away," he said, alluding to free-agent signings and trades. "I know he's a great player, but I don't know how that would work."

It's not easy to trade star players in the NFL. In 2004, the Washington Redskins wanted a first-round pick for star cornerback Champ Bailey. He was only 25, but his contract demands were exorbitant. They ended up trading Bailey and a second-round pick to the Denver Broncos for running back Clinton Portis.

"We had three teams interested (including the Jets), but when it came down to it, everybody backed out," former Redskins GM Vinny Cerrato said. "Whether they didn't want to pay the contract or the compensation was too much, I don't know."

The Redskins took a lot of heat for trading away a future Hall of Famer, but they signed three defensive starters with the money it would've taken to re-sign Bailey. With all the holes on their roster, they felt it was worth it.

"It's kind of where the Jets are," Cerrato said. "We needed more players instead of paying one guy a ton of money."

At some point, the Jets have to make that call -- re-up with Revis, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, or trade him away. In theory, they could string it out until late October; the trading deadline is Week 8.

Let's face it, no matter what they do, there's risk. The worst-case scenario would be to let him play out the season and allow him walk away, receiving nothing in return except a compensatory pick -- probably a third-rounder.

Of course, there would be risk for Revis, too. Would he reject a huge contract from the Jets (or a team interested in trading for him) to play for the relatively modest sum of $6 million, including $3 million in various bonuses due before the season? Now, more than ever, Revis realizes the injury risk.

Sure, he could stage another holdout, but there would be a stiff penalty. His contract voids after the season if he doesn't hold out. If he does, it runs through 2016 at $3 million per year -- and he doesn't want that.

As Polian said, it's muddled, with no easy solution for the Jets. To make the best of a complicated matter, they should just chill out and take their chances that way.