Darrelle Revis: Introducing the Revis Theory and When to Let Star Players Go
Darrelle Revis found himself in the news again talking to the NFL Network about trade rumors surrounding him this offseason.
The New York Jets have been reported to floating around the idea of trading Revis before he hits the market after this coming season. In a new contract, Revis is rumored to want to be the highest paid defensive player in the NFL.
With so many other holes to fill, it might be better for the Jets to reload with draft picks from a Revis trade than commit that much money for Revis to be a great player on a bad team.
Many die hard Jets fans don't want Revis to be traded because he is the best player on the team and they believe the Jets should build around their best player.
This brings up a point seen many times around sports in general when a team's star player gets to the point where his name value and connection to the fans becomes worth more than what the player can truly add with on-field value.
I'm calling this crossroads for a team and a player the "Revis Theory." The Revis Theory could be a cousin to the Ewing Theory made famous by Grantland's Bill Simmons. Unlike the Ewing Theory—which, in short, sees a team do better once the team's perceived best player leaves—the Revis Theory is more about finding out when (or if) it's the right time to cut ties with that star player.
Many franchises are hesitant to part ways with a star player, mostly because of the off-field value that player can generate. In many cases, holding on to that off-field value hinders what the team can do on the field to help rebuild for the future.
Let's look at some examples to see both teams who hung on to some star players for too long and some teams who knew the perfect moment to move on.
Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves
KG was the face of the Timberwolves since the time he was drafted in 1995. He led Minnesota to eight consecutive playoff appearances from 1996-97 to 2003-04—even though the first seven resulted in first-round losses.
After the 03-04 season, Minnesota became a lottery team with four different head coaches in the next three seasons and the number of wins decreased each year.
Realizing the value Garnett alone provided on the court wasn't enough to make Minnesota a competitive team, the Timberwolves decided to trade KG to the Boston Celtics before the 07-08 season.
Garnett went on to win a championship that season, but the Timberwolves were able to acquire Kevin Love at the 2008 NBA draft as the first piece for a rebuilding project, which now includes Ricky Rubio.
Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
Garnett finds himself in a slightly similar situation this season with Boston. After Rajon Rondo tore his ACL, the hopes of a championship in Boston this season faded away. With the trade deadline approaching in the NBA, there have been rumors involving both Garnett and Pierce.
Both players are fan favorites in Boston—Pierce has been a Celtic since 1998—but with Pierce being 35 years old and Garnett a year older, the championship window for both players in Boston may have closed.
The Celtics face a decision to hang on to both players because of what they mean to the fans and the city, or attempt to get some value for the future by trading them to contenders at the deadline.
Brett Favre, Green Bay Packers
If anyone was ever a face of a franchise, it was Brett Favre for the Green Bay Packers. After Favre retired for the first time in 2008, the Packers were comfortable committing to Aaron Rodgers at quarterback for the next season.
Then Favre had his first thoughts about coming out of retirement and the Packers said, "Thanks, but no thanks" which started the strain on their relationship.
How many other teams would have drooled over Brett Favre coming back to quarterback their team? The Packers knew it was time to move on from Favre and let Rodgers take the reigns. The Packers ended up being better off for it.
Green Bay went on to win the Super Bowl in 2011 and Rodgers has turned into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Meanwhile, Favre bounced around from the Jets to the Vikings, while sending cell phone pictures to team masseuses of things team masseuses probably don't want to see.
Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
Here's a Revis Theory candidate that went the other way. Hernandez is the star player on the Mariners and one of the best pitchers in baseball. He just signed a seven-year, $175 million contract extension to stay in Seattle.
For years there have been rumors about whether the Mariners would trade Hernandez to a team like the Yankees for a whole farm system worth of prospects. The Mariners never caved.
Seattle is nowhere near ready to contend in the AL West and have seemed to surround Hernandez on the 25-man roster with 24 first basemen/corner outfielders. With the Rangers, A's and Angels all looking to be in the playoff hunt, the highlight of the Mariners' season might be the games against the new division rival Houston Astros.
Could the Mariners have found a trade partner for Hernandez and stockpiled prospects for the future like Jay Leno collects cars and unfunny monologue jokes? Probably. But they chose to hang on to him hoping their star can help bring in attendance and keep some hope alive for a contender in the near future.
Darrelle Revis, New York Jets
The Jets have to figure out which way they want to go with Revis. It comes down to the Jets having to answer this question: Is the perception of having Revis worth more than the play of Revis?
With Revis on the sidelines this season, the Jets ranked fifth in DVOA against an opponent's No. 1 wide receiver, according to Football Outsiders, while the defense was ranked ninth overall. The loss of Revis wasn't as big of a loss on the field as many would assume.
Add in the fact Revis is only a cover corner and adds no other value in the return game like a Patrick Peterson would, his role can be more easily replaced like it was this past season.
The overall sense of the Revis Theory is at some point a player's name becomes worth more than his actual play, and when that time comes, the team should move on from that player. The name "Darrelle Revis" has become bigger than "Darrelle Revis, the player" for the Jets.
If the Jets really want to build for the future, they can't hang on to the past.
Follow Dan on Twitter @DanPizzuta
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