What Is Darrelle Revis Really Worth?

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IMarch 22, 2013

Despite a never-ending stream of back-and-forth speculation, chances appear to be improving that New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis will be traded sometime in the next month. 

While the Revis trade saga began way back in late January, Peter King of Sports Illustrated has what could be the beginning of the end to what has quickly turned into the NFL's version of Dwight Howard getting out of Orlando. 

According to King, the cornerback-starved Tampa Bay Buccaneers are likely willing to deal both their first- and second-round picks in 2014 for Revis, who is widely considered one of the game's best defensive players, despite suffering a season-ending ACL injury earlier in 2012.

In fact, the source said, if the Jets are willing to take both picks in 2014, Tampa Bay would likely deal its first- and second-round picks for Revis, even though the Bucs are not sold that he can come back and be 100 percent after 2012 knee surgery.

However, King also mentions that Jets general manager John Idzik would prefer a deal that includes Tampa Bay's No. 13 pick in this year's draft, plus an additional selection now, not in 2014. 

Currently, the Buccaneers remain the only team seriously considering adding Revis and giving him the money he craves, which could range from anywhere from $12 to $16 million a year. Both the pick compensation and eventual contract extension have been barriers for other teams getting involved. 

This two-month-long and ever-changing ordeal raises a very obvious question: Does Revis have a quantifiable value, both in trade and contract? 

Any examination of trade worth has to begin with looking at past trades that include both cornerbacks and star players. As you'd expect, there haven't been many in recent years. 

First, the recent cornerback trade history:

—In 2004, the Washington Redskins dealt Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey and a second-round pick to the Denver Broncos for running back Clinton Portis.

The deal worked for both sides, as Portis went on to become the second-leading rusher in Redskins history and Bailey has intercepted 34 passes over nine seasons in Denver, eight of which have ended in Pro Bowl selections. 

—Six years later, the San Diego Chargers sent cornerback Antonio Cromartie to the New York Jets for a second-round pick.

Cromartie intercepted three passes opposite Revis during his first year and then re-upped with the Jets on a new deal the following offseason. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2012 and has 10 career interceptions with New York. 

—The next season, the Arizona Cardinals dealt cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for quarterback Kevin Kolb. 

Neither Rodgers-Cromartie, a Pro Bowler in 2009, nor Kolb, who struggled to stay healthy in Arizona, are currently with the teams involved in this deal.

The recent cornerback trade history doesn't offer much in terms of identifying Revis' value.

Bailey was the closest player in relative skill level, but his deal happened in an era when the running back position was still highly valued. In fact, the Redskins needed to throw in a second-round pick to even make the player-for-player swap work.

Cromartie's situation is the closest to Revis', as the Chargers dealt him when he still had one-year left on his deal. San Diego decided it wouldn't be able to re-sign Cromartie, which spawned the idea of getting some kind of fair compensation in return.

However, while Cromartie was and remains a fine player, he's not in the same talent stratosphere as Revis is currently. Same goes for Rodgers-Cromartie. While a Pro Bowler at the time he was dealt, he was never on Revis' level skill-wise.

Trades including other star players at other positions might give us a little better prospective. Then again, maybe not. Here's a few to consider:

—In 1999, the Indianapolis Colts sent Pro Bowl running back Marshall Faulk to the St. Louis Rams for a second- and fourth-round pick. 

—In 2008, the Kansas City Chiefs dealt All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen and a sixth-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings for a first-round pick (No. 17 overall that year), two thirds and a sixth. All of the picks involved were for that same year.

—In 2009, the Chicago Bears sent quarterback Kyle Orton, two first-round picks and a third to the Broncos for quarterback Jay Cutler and a fifth-rounder. 

—In 2010, the Philadelphia Eagles traded quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Redskins for a second-round pick and another conditional pick, which ended up as a fourth-rounder.

Once again, we come up on the same problem: Are any of these previous trades relevant to the situation with Revis?

In terms of impact and worth, Allen might be the best comparison. Deals involving quarterbacks rarely translate to other positions, and Faulk's deal was so long ago that it probably no longer applies to 2013.

But what about Allen? 

As is the case with Revis now, Allen was a top player at an increasingly important position.

The Vikings ended up having to give away a goldmine worth of draft picks to obtain him, but Revis is likely worth something similar, all things equal. A first- and second-round pick doesn't seem as daunting when compared to what Minnesota gave up back in 2008. 

Then again, there's another mitigating factor not yet discussed: Revis' still healing knee, which he tore in September of last year.

According to the Jets and their doctors (via New York Daily News), Revis was "ahead of schedule" in recovery back in early March. All along, Revis has targeted the start of training camp as a realistic point to be close to 100 percent.

Tears to the anterior cruciate ligament are no longer the career-altering (and sometimes ending) injuries they used to be, but the ailment still remains one of the most difficult to come back from. 

Just last season, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson returned from a catastrophic knee injury to go over 2,000 yards rushing and win the NFL MVPHowever, Peterson is very much the exception when it comes to returning from the injury.

At the cornerback position, recent attempts to recover and return from the injury have been mostly unsuccessful. 

Terrell Thomas of the New York Giants, Domonique Foxworth of the Baltimore Ravens, Cedric Griffin of the Minnesota Vikings and Rashean Mathis of the Jacksonville Jaguars are just a few of the cornerbacks who have torn ACLs and struggled to return to the same player post-injury. In some cases, such as Foxworth's, retirement is the end result. 

Obviously, Revis isn't on the brink of calling it a career—very much the contrary. But the struggles from other players at his position do make it difficult to determine what kind of player Revis will be in 2013 and beyond. 

Of course, this brings us to the last factor in this discussion: the money.

One of the principle reasons why the Jets are willing to deal Revis remains his contract demands. Owner Woody Johnson is not interested in spending a large portion of the cap on Revis, which has necessitated the attempt to find a suitable trade partner. 

Revis, who turns 28 in July, will become an unrestricted free agent after the 2013 season. He also has a clause in his contract that denies New York from giving him the franchise tag.

So, in theory, if the Jets held him for all of next year and then let him walk, the best New York could hope for would be a third-round compensatory choice in the 2014 NFL draft.

Under his current 2013 deal, Revis would make just $6 million next season. However, he's looking for much, much more. 

According to ESPN New York, Revis is believed to covet a contact worth $16 million a year, plus up to $50 million in guarantees. Such a deal would put Revis on par with Mario Williams, who signed a similar deal with the Buffalo Bills last March. 

It would also make Revis the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history, and by a large margin. That's a title you can bet Revis wants. 

In terms of next season, the position's top base salary will be just $9.75 million (Champ Bailey). The top cap hit comes from Cortland Finnegan's $15 million. 

Another important factor to consider is how cold the cornerback market has been in free agency.

Here are some of the deals signed in 2013:

—Derek Cox: four years, $20 million from San Diego

—Keenan Lewis: five years, $25.6 million from New Orleans

—Chris Houston: five years, $25 million from Detroit

—Sean Smith: three years, $18 million from Kansas City

—Rodgers-Cromartie: two years, $10 million from Denver

Despite these numbers, the Bucs remain willing to give Revis $15 million a season over a long-term deal, according to King. 

Even over the last several years, few cornerbacks have come close to that number.

Brandon Carr received five years and $50.1 million from the Dallas Cowboys in 2012. That same year, Lardarius Webb and Cortland Finnegan landed five-year, $50 million deal from the Baltimore Ravens and St. Louis Rams, respectively. 

A five-year deal for Revis, at $15 million a season, would cost at least $75 million. 

Without much question, Revis has to be considered one of the game's elite cornerbacks, and his case for being the very best is strong.

However, establishing his worth—in both trade compensation and contract value—is very difficult to do. 

A first-round pick, whether it comes in 2013 or 2014, will almost have to be tied into his worth. Additional picks, or even a player, will have to be used to supplement the main prize. 

Money will be set by the highest bidder, but it's hard to argue that Revis (or any cornerback, for that matter) is worth $15-16 million a season. It's simply not a position that demands that kind of cap hit. 

In an perfect scenario, Revis could be had for a first- and mid-round pick and then signed to a three- or four-year deal worth $10-12 million a season. That almost certainly won't happen, but there's little to suggest the ceiling of his value is any higher.


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