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When Is It All Right to Overpay a Player?

In the middle of this decade, the Yankees would not stop overpaying mediocre players. It frustrated me as a fan to no end. Year after year guys from Chris Hammond to Jaret Wright to Carl Pavano to Kyle Farnsworth to Kei Igawa got deals worth way more than they were. At some point, I started thinking about whether it was ever all right to overpay for a player.

I came up with two scenarios where I thought it made sense.

Scenario 1:

A player is...

A. Either the best or close to his best at his position

B. The majority of the contract will take place at an age where the player will either be in his prime or play close to it.

Scenario 2:

A player could be the final piece of a championship puzzle.


This doesn't just apply to monetary figures. Take the way the Vikings make all kinds of special rules for Brett Favre. I might mock it, but it's what they have to do. The odds of them winning a Super Bowl with Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels at quarterback is far less than it would be with Favre under center.

See how this applies to the Jets after the jump.

The Jets have a player meeting both criteria in Darrelle Revis. Revis is the best corner in the league. I'll go beyond that. He is the best defensive player in the league at this moment. He also might be the last piece of the puzzle. The Jets have Super Bowl talent up and down the roster. Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson have great potential as starters. Add in the best corner in the league to knock them down a spot on the depth chart, and the defense could be something special.

The question is whether the Jets should top Nnamdi Asomugha's contract with the Raiders. I have explained why Revis is ridiculously valuable to this defense in previous posts. I won't go over old ground. Revis is that good. The question is whether Asomugha's contract really cripples the Raiders. Some say it does. I beg to differ.

Is Asomugha's contract probably too much money? I think it is. It's not the reason the Raiders are consistently terrible, though. What if they hadn't selected JaMarcus Russell?  What if they took Aaron Rodgers instead two years earlier when they had a chance? What if they grabbed Calvin Johnson in 2007 instead of taking Darrius Hayward-Bey? What if they were better at developing talent like Michael Huff and Darren McFadden? What if they didn't take extremely raw talent like the first two guys and expect an unstable and subpar coaching staff to mold it? What if they didn't make terrible coaching hires like giving a college coordinator an NFL head coaching job? What if they didn't blow big money on free agents like Gibril Wilson, Tommy Kelly, and DeAngelo Hall? I could go on. It seems odd to blame the one guy pulling his weight for the most dysfunctional organization in football's malaise?

People make the terrible comparison of the way the Jets spend with the way the Redskins spend. It's dumb because the Redskins blow money on overrated guys like Brandon Lloyd and Antaawn-Randle-El, guys who only play hard when they feel like it such as Albert Haynesworth, or terrible fits for their system like Adam Archuletta. The Jets spend money on high caliber players with good years ahead of them like Bart Scott. Even though they gave big money to an aging player in Alan Faneca a few years ago, guards usually play at a high level for a long time. As much as Faneca declined as a pass blocker, he was still a major force in the run game.

Locking up premium young talent is not a wasted investment. It is not the sign of an unsuccessful team. It is just the opposite. People might worry about how giving Darrelle Revis a few extra million each year will handicap the team. I say the bigger risk is losing the best defensive player in the league, a guy around whose talents a very successful defense is built.