Why Trading Darrelle Revis Is in the New York Jets' Best Interests

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystMarch 7, 2013

At first glance it would seem to be counter-intuitive for an NFL team to trade its best player.

However, in the NFL, things are rarely that simple. Nothing has been with the New York Jets over the past few years, and that's the decision the team now faces with star cornerback Darrelle Revis.

The 27-year-old Revis, who missed nearly the entire 2012 season after tearing his ACL, is entering the final year of his contract under team control, which leaves the Jets in a sticky situation indeed.

Do they trade Revis now, or keep the four-time Pro Bowler and risk him leaving the Big Apple in 2014?

At least one personnel executive told Albert Breer of NFL.com that it's a mess of the Jets' own making.

"The Jets brought this on themselves," one rival AFC personnel executive said. "Not being able to tag the player, the short-sighted contract a couple years ago -- they're here because of how they decided to do business."

That may very well be true, but frankly, it's irrelevant. How the Jets got to this point isn't nearly as important as what they do moving forward.

And what they need to do moving forward is trade Revis, assuming that they can get a reasonable return for him.

Revis, for his part, would apparently prefer to remain in New York, according to what sources close to the Jets told Breer. That would seem to increase the odds that the team could hold onto Revis past this season.

The problem with that is at no point in past negotiations with the team has Revis ever given the slightest indication that he's willing to give the Jets the proverbial "hometown discount."

The Jets' salary-cap situation, even after recently purging several contracts, is still something of a mess. Add to that the numerous holes the team has on both sides of the ball, and the Jets simply can't afford to tie that much money up in one player, a sentiment that two NFC executives shared, according to Breer:

The second NFC exec said, "It's pathetic. One guy is not their answer. They need 10-15 guys, including a quarterback. It's hard to put a number on what they need, to be honest." The first NFC exec affirmed, "That's not a very good football team."

Of course, trading Revis presents problems of its own.

The first is the status of Revis' surgically repaired knee. Given how steep the asking price for Revis would likely be in a trade, you can bet that any prospective suitor is going to want to see Revis put through the paces. Even then, his knee injury is going to affect what teams are willing to pay for him.

That's an even bigger sticking point: Can the Jets get enough back in compensation to justify making the deal in the first place?

That could be tricky, especially because, according to Breer, even the executives he polled can't agree on a fair sticker price:

One NFC personnel director said he'd set the floor at two second-round picks. The first NFC exec said he'd want at least a 1 and a 3, the second NFC exec said at least a 1 and two 3s, while the AFC exec said a 1 and an attached pick conditional on Revis' 2013 performance would be his minimum.

Then there's the matter of Revis' expiring contract. It's highly unlikely that a team is going to be willing to pay that much to rent Revis for just one season, so the Jets need a trading partner that Revis is willing to sign with long term, and one with the cap room to absorb that contract.

Finding such a partner may not be easy. However, there are going to be teams interested in a player that one executive said "was Superman" when healthy, according to Breer, and if a solid offer comes along, the Jets need to pull the trigger.

It's not a trade that's going to be popular with many fans, but it makes the most sense for the Jets' long-term future. The Jets are a rebuilding team with a lot of holes and not a lot of cap space with which to fill them.

The resources that would be tied up in re-upping Revis could be better spent on addressing multiple needs. The extra draft picks that the team would receive would also help in that regard.

Revis has more value to the Jets right now as trade bait than he does on the playing field.

It's an unfortunate reality, but one that the Jets must face.