In a recent interview, Darrelle Revis admitted that he considered retirement after a non-contact ACL tear in 2012 ended his season. It's hard to imagine one of the greatest corners in NFL history retiring at 27 years old, especially on the brink of signing the most lucrative deal of his career, but ACL injuries can be incredibly painful and demoralizing. Revis went on to watch his team collapse in his absence while he went through a painful rehabilitation period. His "A Football Life" episode detailed the difficulties of recovering from an ACL injury, both physical and emotional. He described the pain as akin to being cut in the knee with a knife. He had to watch his team get demolished from a booth, missing the majority of a 6-10 season that once seemed so promising. It's not impossible to imagine that a player would think about retiring in these circumstances, especially in the wake of several shocking retirements earlier this year. According to Revis, his uncle convinced him to "get over it" and continue his career. Not a startling revelation, considering that his uncle, Sean Gilbert, is also his agent and has a lot of motivation to extend Revis' career. It isn't surprising that a player as driven and...economical...as Revis would choose to continue his career.
However, it does make you wonder "what if?" Had Revis retired in 2012, Idzik would have been unable to trade him to the Bucs for the picks eventually used on Sheldon Richardson and Jalen Saunders. The Jets also would have been unable to re-sign Revis, meaning that the Jets would currently be relying on Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine as their starting corners. On the other hand, the Jets would have an absurdly large amount of cap space due to avoiding the exorbitant salary of Revis, as well as the rookie contracts of Richardson and Saunders. Revis retires a Jet that never changed teams and the Patriots probably don't win the Superbowl without him.
Then again, the "what if" game can get pretty convoluted. Maybe the Jets take Richardson instead of Milliner. Maybe they don't and without Richardson, the Jets' 2013 season is a disaster, leading to Rex's early termination. Maybe Idzik gets a high pick in the 2014 draft and takes OBJ instead of Pryor, saving his job. Maybe the Bucs take Richardson in 2013 instead and end up a better team in 2014, whereas the Jets collapse and get the #1 overall pick in the draft. Really, there's no telling what would have happened. Personally, I'm glad he didn't call it quits. It's probably safe to say that Revis' decision not to retire allowed the Jets to acquire Sheldon Richardson and reacquire Revis in free agency this year. The Jets have their two best players (arguably) this year because of his decision to keep playing and it's hard to argue with those results.