Since cornerback Darrelle Revis was selected by the New York Jets in Round 1 of the 2007 NFL Draft, he has been one of the best -- and often simply the best -- player at his position. He's been a Pro Bowler seven times, a First-Team All-Pro four times and only two active defensive players have had higher career earnings. He's had 28 interceptions in his 10 seasons, plus 135 passes defensed and 394 solo tackles. But Revis is human, a fact that has been all too obvious in 2016.
This marks Revis' second stint with the Jets; the team traded him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013, where he lasted one season. He then had a season with the New England Patriots and a highly successful one at that -- it was just that his $25 cap hit for 2015 was completely out of the team's price range. That's when he returned to the Jets, where he is currently under contract through the 2019 season.
Signs, though, are pointing to the Jets moving on from Revis well before that deal expires. He is 31 years old and no longer the "island" he once was, now unable to single-handedly shut down opposing offenses' top receivers. By his own admission, his body "is breaking down," and though retirement is not on his mind, a second departure from New York or even a switch to safety could be in his future.
Revis has only two passes defensed this year, despite seeing a heavy dose of targets (the Cleveland Browns' Josh McCown threw his way 17 times in October, something no quarterback would ever think of just two or three years ago). He also has no interceptions through 10 games. He's giving up yards by the boatload -- Football Outsiders has him allowing 3.1 yards per average after the catch and quarterbacks are averaging 10.6 yards per pass when throwing Revis' way. It's gotten so rough for the cornerback, Los Angeles Rams receiver Kenny Britt managed 109 yards on seven catches against him. That marked the fourth time this year that Revis has allowed over 80 receiving yards; according to Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson, Revis had only done so seven times in his previous nine seasons.
The troubles continued into Week 12. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady opted not to throw Revis' way for much of the game, but once the score became too close for comfort, Brady unleashed against Revis and the results weren't pretty: five targets, four receptions for 41 yards and two game-deciding touchdowns. Brady had a passer rating of 140.4 when throwing in Revis' direction.
Revis could only say, "We'll see how it goes," when asked on Monday about his future with the Jets. And there's reason for that. Though his five-year, $70.121 million contract with $39 million guaranteed has three more seasons left, only $6 million of those guarantees remain in the form of a fractional amount of his $13 million 2017 salary.
However, that guaranteed commitment goes up to $8 million if Revis is on the roster on the second day of the 2017 league year, via a $2 million roster bonus. That means the Jets will need to make a decision regarding Revis' future by March 11; otherwise, the team will be on the hook for $15 million next year, with Revis behind only Josh Norman in compensation. That's a lot of money for a corner that Pro Football Focus currently has ranked 81st (out of 119).
Thus, it appears that the Jets and Revis are headed toward a day of reckoning. To stay with the Jets, a pay cut and/or a position switch to safety -- something Revis said in August he is open to doing, and something that Lardarius Webb has done this year with the Baltimore Ravens -- will doubtlessly be in order. Indeed, a position switch may be necessary no matter where Revis plays in 2017 and it certainly won't happen alongside the $15 million cap number he's currently scheduled to cost. But one thing is obvious: Whatever land mass one would use to describe Revis and his 2016 performance, "Island" is no longer the most apt. The one-time shutdown corner is now being shut down.