Darrelle Revis (above) began a costly but necessary holdout yesterday, when he skipped the first day of Jets’ training camp in SUNY Cortland on Sunday in the hopes of expediting his negotiations for a new contract. While the Jets have made several moves of late, signing first round pick Kyle Wilson to a 5 yr deal between $ 12 and $ 13 M, giving GM Mike Tannenbaum and coach Rex Ryan big money extensions, locking up D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and signing veteran backup QB Mark Brunell to a two year contract, team owner Woody Johnson told the press today that Darrelle Revis and the Jets are not close on a contract this afternoon.
Johnson said he was disappointed by Revis’s absence, but painted the dispute as an inevitable part of team ownership, if a holdout by a cornerback labeled by some as the best defensive player in the N.F.L. can be considered normal.
“Just because you want to do something doesn’t mean it happens,” Johnson said.
He also reiterated what General Manager Mike Tannenbaum said Sunday night, that the main disagreement between the Jets and Revis’s representatives centers on total compensation. Johnson confirmed that Tannenbaum and his team set the Jets’ total compensation threshold. Johnson said he gave Tannenbaum a five-year extension in June because he trusts him to make that kind of decision.
Revis wants to be the highest paid cornerback in football, but the Jets believe that the salary Oakland pays Nnamdi Asomugha, currently the highest paid at $45.3 million over three years, is outlandish and unrealistic. Johnson used the words “far apart” when he addressed the gap in total compensation.
My take? While it seems like the Jets hold all the leverage in this situation–they control Revis’ rights exclusively for three more seasons, and then if franchised, would hold the right of first refusal over Revis through the player’s prime–they need to get a deal done with this guy in short order. Those facts stated above would all spell leverage for the team except in the situation where you have a game changing talent like Revis who shatters common negotiating ettiquette and precedence because he is likely going to go down as one of the all time greats to play his position. This is a special player who transcends the Jets ability to argue that hardline negotiating is a just approach.
Revis definitely wants to be on the field, and does not want to hold out, especially this year, with the HBO Hard Knocks cameras at camp. But as he is likely the second most important player on the team and the best overall player on the team, his value to the team will be made abundantly clear by virtue of his absence. The Jets have taken a poor stance in these negotiations, supporting a failed premise about Raiders’ CB Nnamdi Asomugah being overpaid.
It is what it is. Bad contracts set salary thresholds in sports all the time. Asomugah is worth that money–$45 M for 3 years–because someone was willing to give it to him. For billionaire Woody Johnson to try to get around this simple fact, instead of using it as a basis to find the parameters of a Revis contract is incredibly stupid, and I see the ploy as one the Jets will have to soon abandon. For now, Revis sits, costing himself over $16,000 per day, but at the end of this negotiation, I will be shocked if Revis isn’t making $ 16 M a year on a long term pact.
Revis, who will earn $ 21 M guaranteed in the next three years on his current contract is upset that he is only being paid $ 1 M in base salary for 2010, but he just received a lucrative bonus in March and would receive another next March, on his current pact. But that’s all moot, since Revis will be a $ 100 M man soon–whether hardline football people feel he’s in line for it or has handled himself well, or not, because his talent, combined with the Jets’ talent as a football team and ability to go deep this year, demands it.