Trading the best player on the roster is a tough discussion to have.
When the team faces as many problems as the New York Jets do, that discussion needs to happen.
As a whole, the Jets problems are twofold: talent and salary cap. They can take significant strides toward fixing both by trading cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Revis is set to become a free agent following the 2013 season. There's also a clause in his contract that prevents the Jets from putting the franchise tag on him in 2014.
Chances of the two sides reaching a long-term deal are slim. The relationship has become strained between Revis and the Jets over the past couple of years. A bitter contract dispute carried over into the 2010 season, and the "band-aid contract" that resulted from that dispute nearly resulted in another holdout in 2012.
Trading the best defensive player in the league will be a large step back in terms of talent, at least initially, but with an opportunity to improve at multiple positions, that step back could lead to multiple steps forward.
In terms of the salary cap, the Jets can release several players to help them get closer to cap stability this season. By releasing linebackers Calvin Pace and Bart Scott, offensive tackle Jason Smith, quarterback Tim Tebow and safety Eric Smith, the Jets can save around $32.2 million off the salary cap for 2013, which would give them over $10 million in cap space.
Aside from Scott and Tebow, the Jets would have to make decisions on all of them in 2014, anyway.
Even after those moves, they have several of their own key free agents to re-sign this year that could eat up some of the money freed up. Among the notable names: defensive tackle Mike Devito, safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, guards Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson and tight end Dustin Keller.
Those moves also won't have long-lasting effects, and the Jets will still have some unfavorable contracts on the books.
The salary dumping may not be limited to 2013, as the Jets will owe $8.25 million to Santonio Holmes, $7.75 million to Bart Scott and $7 million to David Harris in 2014 according to Spotrac.com.
The Jets need to find a way to balance all the turnover on their roster by bringing in new players to develop.
It's not totally out of the question for the Jets to find a way to bring Revis back, but there's a risk involved in that. Not only the risk that he won't want to sign and will eventually walk away for nothing, but also the risk that inevitably comes with signing a player to a record-setting contract the likes of which Revis will want, the likes of which have resulted in the current cap situation the Jets are in.
The cornerback position is valued among the highest in the NFL, but is any cornerback worth $16 million per year? Most of the best defensive teams invest heavily in the front seven, not in the secondary. Look no further than the past two Super Bowl champions, the Giants and Ravens, for teams with solid front sevens and lackluster coverage units.
From a big picture perspective, the best teams in the NFL are rarely (if ever) the teams that hand out record-setting deals to star players (unless it's a quarterback). Larry Fitzgerald with the Cardinals, Chris Johnson with the Titans, and Mario Williams with the Bills are just a few examples. Why would Revis with the Jets be any different?
The best teams are the ones that know how to spread their money around throughout a 53-man roster, not the teams that throw the most money at the best individual player.
It's now-or-never for the Jets if they want to get something in return for Revis, and if the Jets want to climb out of the hole and into the postseason, moving on from Revis could be one of the key moves to make.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise specified, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.
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