Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Revis Situation

It seems there is a pretty intense situation going on in New York these days. It involves New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and his desire for a new, long-term contract.

There was plenty of talk leading up to training camp that Revis would holdout after putting together a monster 2009 campaign. The third-year cornerback established himself as the face of the NFL's number one defense while helping the Jets make it to the AFC Championship game (with a rookie quarterback, no less). The nickname "Revis Island", a term used for Revis and/or the side of the field he's playing on, refers to the fact that he's often allowed to matchup with the league's top receivers without any help from a safety.

Revis, of course, did not report to training camp. He's now 10 days into his holdout, and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. Jets owner Woody Johnson has said he doesn't think Revis will play for the team this season.

Here's the deal. ESPN is reporting that Revis, who is due to make $1 million this season with three years left on his current contract, is looking for something in the range of 10 years and $160 million (wow). The Jets brass, according to the New York Daily News, have offered him a 10-year deal worth $120 million.

These dollar amounts all seem ridiculous to the casual fan, but as we know, it's all relative. Before the 2009 season, the Oakland Raiders gave premiere cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha a major pay raise, making him the highest-paid corner in the league at about $16.5 million per year. Revis, believing (correctly) that he is as good as or better than Asomugha, or any other cornerback for that matter, wants to get paid like Asomugha. In this light, Revis' request seems understandable, given the precedent that has been set.

Surprisingly, many Jets fans have turned on Revis during this ordeal. It's odd. In most player vs. ownership financial battles, it's the team's brass who find themselves worse off in the public eye. Also, Revis was already one of the more popular players in New York. I couldn't imagine if, during his time with the Chiefs, the late Derrick Thomas asked for a new contract and the Kansas City community then collectively sided with King Carl Peterson and the Chiefs brass. There would have been a boycott of Arrowhead Stadium until a new deal was done.

And let's be clear. Maybe Revis is not yet ready to be compared to the likes of Thomas in terms of his stake in the community, but his importance to the Jets defense going forward is certainly on the same level.

Revis' popularity has also taken a hit due to ESPN's biased coverage of the story. They're biased for two reasons:  The coverage is being dictated by the worldwide leader's employees who, some of which, are New York residents and/or Jets fans, and also because, and this is directly related to reason number one, the bias stems from the networks ridiculous love affair with Jets coach Rex Ryan.

Instead of boring you with the disgusting details of the ESPN/Ryan relationship, we'll go at it this way. On Wednesday, Ryan suggested he would call off practice and bring the whole organization in - including the players - to have a meeting with the Revis camp until a deal is worked out. Ryan claimed to be "absolutely serious" about the idea.

It's a joke. This is why coaches coach and general managers and owners, well, they do what they do. Ryan ought to apologize, take his comments back, and claim he wasn't thinking clearly because of heat exhaustion. As frustrating as the Chiefs tight-lipped shot-callers can be, most fans would still probably choose professionalism over the circus Ryan has created.

Anyway, back to Revis. The key in the negotiations, as it usually is in the NFL, is the guaranteed money. It's been reported that the last offer the Jets made included only $5 million in guarantees. To put that in perspective, Chiefs' first-round draft pick Eric Berry signed a deal two weeks ago worth $34 million in guaranteed money. Needless to say, the Chiefs have high hopes for Berry. Still, he hasn't played a down in the NFL. How in the world could Berry be worth more - that much more - than Revis, coming off the season he had in 2009?

So the total years and money on the contract are almost meaningless. NFL contracts aren't structured like some of the other major sports, and most contracts end up having loopholes in them to where the team can get out of the deal without any major penalties long before the contract is due to expire. Revis would be a fool to accept only $5 million in guarantees, because it's the only part of the contract that really has any substance.

Injuries are something players have in mind, as well. Revis is the best player in the NFL at his position, but is currently being paid (and will be, unless a deal is worked out, for the next three years) like a reserve. Anything can happen in the NFL, and players' careers can end at any moment. Take Revis' former teammate, Leon Washington, for example. The Jets offered Washington a long-term deal with guarantees included during the 2009 offseason. Washington declined, instead opting to play out the rest of his contract in hopes that he could raise his stock even higher during the season. Washington then broke his leg early in the year, ending his season and changing the league's perception as to how high of a level he can play. He missed out on millions of dollars because of the risk he took.

Revis can't afford to make the same mistake, and shouldn't feel pressure to take any risks here. He's the best cornerback in the league and deserves to be paid like it.

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