Don't be fooled, for all is not well on the Darrelle Revis front.
New York Jets fans were relieved to read and hear over the weekend that Revis, the team's top cornerback, will report to training camp on time Thursday, avoiding the third contract snafu of his still-young career. Between his rookie season and the 2010 campaign, Revis and agents Neil Schwartz and Jonathan Feinsod have done plenty of sitting in pursuit of a new contract. That's why there was belief that Revis would holdout again. The will he/won't he guessing game went on for months, accentuated by the fact that Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum refused multiple attempts by Schwartz and Feinsod to set up a meeting to discuss a new deal, according to sources familiar with the circumstances.
Revis was never planning to holdout. The risk of having to return $18 million in signing bonus money under the new rules of the collective bargaining agreement was too large. But just as the Jets wouldn't talk to his agents, Revis wasn't going to let the team know his true intentions. Instead, it was about letting the team twist in the wind a little.
This tempest figures to nix any chance of Revis being a "Jet for life," as he tweeted in mid-July. Sure, Revis has two years remaining on the deal the Jets gave him in 2010. Between this season and next, he'll make $14 million, the final seasons of a four-year, $46 million extension. Revis can't be franchised when this deal is done. So once the 2013 campaign ends, Revis will be 28 and ready to hit the open market. Based on the fractured relationship between the Jets and Revis' agents, it's hard to imagine things going well.
As a Jets source put it this week, "You work on the things you can fix." The Jets aren't working to fix this situation now.
That doesn't make the Revis camp less culpable. Over the past six years, Schwartz and Feinsod have scorched their relationship with Tannenbaum, calling him a liar publicly and warring with the team over Revis, guard Pete Kendall and tight end Chris Baker. Assessing blame is stupid. Both sides would be better off putting their differences aside and just talking with a focus on the future instead of the annoying past.
The Jets would prefer that Revis at least play one more year before coming back to the table, if not simply play out the deal. That's the conventional wisdom as shown by Calvin Johnson with the Detroit Lions and Drew Brees with the New Orleans Saints.
But with every passing day, the Jets lose a little more leverage. Revis gets closer to becoming a free agent and the price tag rises. By the time Revis gets to the 2014 offseason, don't be surprised if the guaranteed money for him surpasses $60 million. That's the way the market works.
The only thing that can get in the way of that is an injury and the likelihood of that isn't as high for a cornerback.
Fact is, Revis is a great player. Earlier this offseason, Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu was talking about his personal all-time team. He and a couple of teammates like to argue over who would win in a fictional game. Polamalu's team was loaded with a bunch of obvious names, from Bruce Smith to Reggie White to Ray Lewis to Ronnie Lott to Deion Sanders. All of the players were retired with one exception: Revis.
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Yes, Polamalu put Revis as one of the best cornerbacks in the history of the game after only six years in the league. That's serious respect. That's why it would be wise for the Jets to start listening more. It would also be wise for the Revis camp to put aside its perception of Tannenbaum being the leader of the "dastardly" Jets.
And that's not because the sides are suddenly going to reach a compromise. Revis wants to be paid in the range of the top players in the league, making something around $18 million a year. He wouldn't be wrong to ask for that and the Jets wouldn't be wrong to say no, at least not yet. But it would be healthy if they would actually say it to each other's faces. That's the kind of discussion that can lead to a productive relationship.
Not the battle of silence that's happening now.
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