To end his career on the best possible note, Darrelle Revis will have to do the one thing he never has: forget about the money.
No player in NFL history has maximized his monetary value better than the seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback. Revis has held out, forced a trade, signed with a hated rival, and essentially done everything in his power to milk every penny out of his labor. It has made him a very rich man.
Now, Revis Island is adrift in uncharted waters. Without a team since his release by the New York Jets in late February, the soon-to-be 32-year-old Revis probably won’t earn a single penny for playing in 2017.
He’ll still get paid. The Jets still owe him $6 million fully guaranteed this season even after cutting him. But that money has offset language, which means if Revis signs with a new team, every dollar he earns from that team will be subtracted from what the Jets owe him.
That means $6 million is almost certainly the maximum Revis will earn from the NFL this year, regardless of whether he plays. Why would any team pay him $1 million, or anything under $6 million, when that team could just pay him $0 and let the Jets foot the bill?
So, if Revis wants to play, he’ll probably have to do so for free (or close).
And to a player who has always commanded top dollar for his services, that can’t feel right. But it also presents Revis with an opportunity.
He has his Super Bowl ring, earned as a mercenary with the New England Patriots in 2014. But what he doesn’t have is a proper end to his career.
It was downright sad to see a former shutdown corner, someone whose rare skills earned him his own metaphorical island, torched by players like Marquise Goodwin and Kenny Britt last season. A lack of surrounding talent likely hurt Revis, as did the ways the Jets insisted on using him, but perhaps his own loss of motivation hurt most. The Jets were a very bad team and that seemed to sap any competitive fire Revis had left.
We can no longer view Revis as a shutdown defender, but it’s hard to imagine he has nothing at all to offer a Super Bowl contender. In the right role, which likely means playing a subset of snaps, Revis could be a useful piece.
If he is, it could forever alter the way we think of him. Already a likely Hall of Famer, Revis could cement his induction into Canton as a first-ballot player with one final season of high-end play. He could write a new ending to his career arc, one that isn’t a middling wideout blowing by him for a long touchdown.
Most importantly, by playing for free, Revis could destroy the notion that money is the only thing that matters to him, not a desire to win.
Of course, none of this matters if Revis believes he’s washed up. His film from last season certainly suggests that’s a possibility.
But could it be that Revis is waiting for the call from the right team? Perhaps a reunion with the Patriots, or maybe a veteran team like the Pittsburgh Steelers or Seattle Seahawks, or any contender that can convince Revis there’s a role for him?
Playing for free isn’t the way any player imagines his career’s conclusion, but for Revis it could be a perfect ending.
Copyright © 2017 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.