The New York Jets limped to the finish line at the end of a dismal 6-10 season. Tebowmania went awry, as the media turned the Jets and coach Rex Ryan into villains for sticking with Mark Sanchez when they apparently had the second coming of Tom Brady sitting on the bench.
Amidst the tumultuous season, star receiver Santonio Holmes was sidelined with an injury, leaving hopeless the Jets' passing game. However, they were doomed as soon as lockdown corner Darrelle Revis went down with a torn ACL.
Recent rumors have surfaced that the Jets are looking to trade the star. Even more recently, it has been said that the Jets were also looking to trade him before he ever got injured.
If there is one position that you do not trade in the NFL, it is cornerback. In the entire league, there are maybe five elite corners, as opposed to other positions where the talent level is much greater. No defensive player can alter a game plan like a lockdown player on the outside.
On the other side of the story, there is the financial issue. This is the only aspect that makes sense for the Jets to deal the face of their franchise. The Jets had the second-ranked pass defense in the league this year even without Revis, although their numbers were likely skewed by dominant performances against subpar teams. New York beat only one team with a winning record in 2012.
So why trade Revis?
Revis is owed $6 million dollars this upcoming season. He has three player-option years the following seasons after that, which he will most assuredly forgo. According to the New York Post, Revis will be looking to solidify a contract upwards of Mario Williams' six-year $96 million with the Buffalo Bills.
This does not bode well for the Jets, as they are already projected to be $19 million over the salary cap for next season. But there is a great alternative option.
Revis' trade value could not be lower than it currently is, with no guarantee that he will sign a long-term extension and coming off of an ACL tear. The Jets would not get top dollar for him. In fact, the proper thing to do would be to jump now and try to sign him to an extension before he increases in value.
The better option would be to sell high on Antonio Cromartie, who had a very strong year filling in as the number-one corner. Cromartie shut down high-profile receivers and earned a trip to the Pro bowl as he stepped out of Revis' spotlight.
Additionally, dealing Cromartie would clear $8.2 million in cap room, whereas dealing Revis would cost the Jets $12 million. Cromartie also has a roster bonus of $2.3 million that kicks in on March 15, so things are about to get very interesting. If the Jets really think they can lock Revis up, then dealing Cromartie in the next six weeks would be the wise move.
That being said, there is just no way the Jets could ever sell this move to their fans as being a productive one that will help the team win. He was the main cog of their stellar defense in the back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances. An irreplaceable talent like him does not come around very often, and they must do whatever they have to do to keep him in town.
Losing the 27-year-old face of your franchise in a big market like New York would take a long time to atone for.
Anyone who watched a Jets game this season knows that the main problem was their offense. It is unlikely that trading Revis will bring back anything more than middle-to-high draft picks, which would not immediately pay dividends. Clearing Cromartie and Sanchez off the salary cap should be enough to clear room to sign Revis. Barring some sort of miracle, it is hard to believe that Sanchez's massive contract won't come off the books following the 2014 season, leaving plenty of room for Revis.
As far as trade returns go, the Jets are shallow at multiple positions. Trading Revis would not be nearly enough to solve their multitude of issues.
Revis is the kind of player a team builds around, not one who is dealt to initiate a rebuilding process. The fanbase would never embrace a move like this when there are other less-than-stellar players like Sanchez, Holmes and David Harris making such ridiculous amounts of money.
Although the Revis situation is a very clouded one, the Jets are a far better team with him on the field than they are without him. No matter what needs to be done, Woody Johnson needs to sit down with his associates and hammer out a plan to keep him in green.
As shown in recent years, this team can contend and might not need much more than an adequate quarterback to do that again. Moving forward with Revis once again anchoring this defense is of utmost importance.