You Got Served: Tying Darrelle Revis to Elvis Dumervil

Happy Thursday, friends.  In the wake of the news that Elvis Dumervil is being asked to take a pay cut, I’ve been thinking about what it might mean in a larger sense for the Broncos’ offseason plans.

I haven’t been buying the idea of the Broncos being in on Darrelle Revis, but with the team’s salary structure as it currently stands, and with the expected cuts of D.J. Williams and Joe Mays looming, I tend to view the Dumervil business as a complementary move to something big.

About five weeks ago, I wrote an article where I talked about the Broncos’ salary structure.  I pointed out that Peyton Manning, Dumervil, Champ Bailey, Ryan Clady, and Von Miller account for $58 million in cap hit, which is now 47% of the Broncos salary cap.  That is the primary reason that I say that the Broncos can’t accommodate another large salary.

That assumes that the salary actually is large, though, and as it stands, the current deal that Revis is playing under isn’t.  His base salary is $3 million, and he has a $1 million reporting bonus, a $1 million roster bonus, and a $1 million workout bonus.  For an acquiring team, that would be $6 million in cap space, and the same amount in cash.

Revis’s contract runs through 2016, but the last three years are voidable, only if he doesn’t hold out in 2013.  That means that if the Broncos (or another team) trade for him, he has almost no leverage to get a new deal this year.  He can bellyache to the media, and try to get public sentiment on his side, but if he holds out, he’s under contract to play three more years at only $3 million per year.  There are no more option, roster, reporting, or workout bonuses coming.  A Revis holdout simply isn’t going to happen, in other words.

So think about this – if you cut Dumervil, and traded for Revis, and Revis had to play for the $6 million this year (which he does), you just saved $6 million cash and cap.  (I calculate that as $12 million for Dumervil saved less $6 million for Revis spent.) 

If you could get Dwight Freeney to play for that $6 million, is that a good deal?  I think it is.  Even if Freeney gets hurt, or underperforms, you still have Robert Ayers, who quietly had a good year in 2012, in limited snaps.

With Revis on the outside, you have all kinds of flexibility in coverage, where you could have Champ Bailey man up on an inside guy like Aaron Hernandez.  Chris Harris can cover the slot, which he normally does anyway in sub packages, and Tony Carter is an excellent fourth CB.  I think the defense is pretty clearly better, in this scenario.

OK, you say, but then what about 2014?  Isn’t Revis a free agent when he voids those three years?  Yes, he is.  As part of his current contract, the Jets agreed not to franchise Revis, but that clause isn’t transferable in a trade.  The Broncos could franchise him for 2014.  They could do so again in 2015, for a 20% raise over the 2014 franchise number.

The 2013 cornerback tag number is $10.668 million.  Let’s assume that it goes up a little bit for 2014, to something like $11.1 million.  A 20% raise on that for 2015 is $13.32 million.  That means that a team trading for Revis could acquire his services over the next three years for a total of about $30.4 million.  That’s not pocket change, but it’s a lot less than the $16 million per year that Revis is believed to want.

Also, there’s the question of horizon;  I think the team’s window as a championship contender is probably the next three years, assuming Peyton Manning plays all three.  The 2013, 2014, and 2015 seasons will be Revis’s age 28, 29, and 30 seasons.

A team like the Broncos acquiring Revis would change the whole dynamic for him.  It wouldn’t be his team, not at all.  He couldn’t go complaining to the media as freely about money, because he’d be a cog in the machine of Peyton Manning’s team.  It would be a PR nightmare for him, and he’d look like a me-first guy who cared more about money than he did about winning.

By virtue of the contract extension he signed in 2010, Revis is pretty much stuck.  He no doubt enjoyed that $18 million bonus when he got it in 2011, but he wants more, like all bonus babies eventually do.  Recall the article I wrote a month ago, about why the Broncos are smart not to pay out big bonuses.

That’s why Darrelle’s making noise about wanting a new contract now, because he knows he’s boxed in.  The Jets, organizationally, are a mess, and their media likes to stir the pot for the back pages of the tabloids, so they’re helpful to Revis.  An acquiring team doesn’t need to give him a new deal, though.  He’ll have to fall in line, try hard, and play well, so that when he does eventually escape the franchise tag, he can get somebody to overpay for his decline phase.

I’m not that big a fan of offering a #1 and a #3 this year (something like two second-rounders sounds better to me), but if the Broncos think that swapping out Freeney for Dumervil and bringing in Revis would make them the team to beat, then I guess, in John Elway I trust.  Just don’t let me hear tell of the Broncos paying quarterback money to a (second) cornerback.

Update from Doug 4:13pm ET: Unfortunately, I screwed this one up. Clauses such as the one the Jets gave Revis (waiving their right to use their franchise tag on him) do transfer in a trade. Any team that acquires Revis will either have him for 2013 and lose him to free agency, or they'll have to come to terms with Revis on a longer term deal of their own. Like the Jets, they will not be able to tender Revis.

Obviously, this was a big part of Ted's reasoning, and it came straight from me. Not sure how to explain this, other than to say that I've spent so much time reading the CBA in recent weeks (and again today) that I've twisted myself into knots. I cannot apologize enough for this mistake, and I should have double checked this important point before we went ahead with this column.

PS. Thanks to IAOFM reader Green and White (yes, that guy) for originally raising this question with me.

PPS. Upon further review, I realize where my confusion started, and it relates to franchise tenders and poison pills. I'll use Ryan Clady's case to explain:

Let's say the Chargers sign Clady to an offer sheet, and as part of the offer, they agree to waive their future right to use a franchise tender on Clady.

If the Broncos decide to match the Chargers' offer, they would not be required to match this clause of the offer, because it is considered not to be a Principal Term.

Many thanks to Mike at Spotrac and Jason at Over the Cap for their help in getting to the bottom of this.

1.  I’m not in the arguing business, I’m in the saying what I think business.
2.  I get my information from my eyes.

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