By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Score another one for Bill Belichick.
As the Patriots sit atop the AFC East, on track for another long playoff run and potentially another Super Bowl, the New York Jets sit in last place with a 2-5 record and with tens of millions of dollars dedicated to a No. 1 cornerback in Darrelle Revis who can’t handle the duties of his job anymore.
Revis has now admitted this himself.
“My body’s breaking down,” the 31-year-old Revis told Newsday’s Kimberly Martin. “Yeah, I am. I mean, not in a bad way. I can still play. It’s just, I’m breaking down. I’m 31. How many corners are 31 right now in the league? The league’s getting younger.”
Revis blamed much of his physical limitations on the beating his body has endured over the years of drawing difficult assignments every Sunday in the NFL. He remarked that Terence Newman is still playing cornerback at 38 years old, but by and large, it is a young man’s position. And Revis is no longer a young man.
One thing about Revis’ age is that it’s been known for some time. Certainly, the Jets were aware they were signing a 30-year-old cornerback when they gave him a five-year, $70 million deal with $39 million guaranteed and a massive cap hit that would inhibit the Jets’ ability to sign players at other positions … like, say, quarterback. And just as certainly, the Patriots and Belichick were aware of Revis’ age when they happily let him leave via free agency after the 2014 season, paying a $5 million charge in dead money in 2015 instead of dedicating major resources to the aging cornerback in his post-30 years.
But the Jets, they were undeterred by Revis’ age, and they’ve now got a once-great All-Pro corner who’s officially hanging up a “CLOSED” sign at the entrance to Revis Island.
“I don’t do that no more, but I did that for a number of years,” Revis said of covering star wideouts in man coverage. “When you play Cover Zero on some of the best receivers in the world, it takes a toll on your body. And your coaches have confidence to say we trust that you’re going to shut down this guy that had 200 yards receiving and the week before he had [more]. We trust you with that job. So it’s hard. It’s a lot.”
If one were so inclined to find humor in the decision-making of the Jets’ front office, one could notice that Woody Johnson and the Jets will end up paying around $100 million for his services from ages 22-27 and 30-32. They paid all that money, yet they didn’t even get him for what would be considered the prime of his career. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took on a Revis who was recovering from knee surgery at age 28, and the Patriots swooped in to get him for his age 29 season, when he was at his peak mentally and still very capable physically.
The Patriots used Revis to help win a Super Bowl, and they paid him a total of $17 million, with only a $12 million cap hit in 2014. It was money well spent.
The Jets? Not so much. They paid him $25 million in 2011; they went 8-8. They paid him $16 million last year; they missed the playoffs. They’re paying him $16 million this year; they’re 2-5.
They’ve paid him such tremendous piles of money throughout his career because he and his agents have been ferocious at the bargaining table. But these most recent comments likely mean he’s signed his last lucrative contract in the NFL. All the Jets have to show for it are salary cap constraints for this year and next season.
But fear not, New York Jets, because Revis doesn’t plan on quitting.
“I’m not thinking about retirement at this moment,” he said.
So that means the Jets not only have to dedicate a lot of money to the cornerback; they also have to figure out how to protect him on the field in a way that most $17 million cornerbacks don’t require safety help.
For Belichick’s part, he probably moved on from the entire Revis era about 10 seconds after the Patriots declined the option on Revis back in March 2015. For that matter, he probably knew when he made that decision almost exactly how the future would play out. But still, when he catches wind of Revis’ recent comments, maybe he’ll afford himself a moment or two to fire up a Bon Jovi classic and pat himself on the back a bit. He got this one right.